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Weifang kite festival attracts international hobbyists (2)

By Chitraleka Basu (China Daily)

10:34, July 23, 2012

The Malaysian kite festival held at Johor Bahru in February 2012 was a high point in his career.

"There was no wind and mine was the only kite that could take off. All cameras were trained on me."

It took Qian about three years to develop that special technique, but it was worth the effort. "At that moment, I felt like a kite myself, soaring in the sky."

This being the Year of the Dragon, according to the Chinese zodiac, the mythical beast was a hands-down favorite at the festival, in which 110 teams from 67 countries participated.

They brought kites of every size - from 20 to 600 meters. While most were designed after the traditional centipede dragon model - which is generic to Weifang - there was at least one that did not show the dragon at all, but suggested its presence.

Based on the theme of Weifang's economic development, the kite, presented by the Weifang Kite Committee, was a giant rose-pink open-ended box, on which blue clouds and waves were painted.

"It's a symbol of the dragon who lives in the seas," says team leader Liu Ziqing. "We would like to see China touch the heights of development, fly up into the skies like a dragon."

Sun Zhanfu, who has been a Weifang kite festival regular since its inception in 1984, brought his own hand-crafted dragon, more than 200 meters long. "Making kites is great fun," he tells us. He has more than 10 apprentices to whom he has been teaching the art of making a traditional Weifang kite.

"Weifang kite-making technique has been listed among the national intangible cultural heritages," he says, visibly pleased with his role in passing on the time-tested craft to younger generations.

Some people were more focused on winning.

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