Traditional Chinese dragon kites have been made in the centipede kite form. These kites have a large head at the lower end and the tail escalates skyward with feathered tails trailing from each section. There is also a hard flat dragon kite type. This type of dragon kite has a body with extended wings. The body and wings are painted to represent the desired dragon. A third type of dragon kite consists of a flat representation of the head, with trailing streamers representing the dragon's body.
Traditional centipede kites are made of silk, bamboo and paper. The bamboo is formed into a framework for each section. The head is the largest section. The three-dimensional head is shaped by bending and joining bamboo pieces and then covering them with raw silk. The silk is painted in graphic designs to represent the facial expression of the dragon. Additional sections are actually small kites connected to one another. Each small segment has a framework stretched with raw silk and is painted. Through the centre of each segment a small bamboo piece extends with a feather attached to trail in the wind. This kite is flown with the head down and the centipede body lifting to the sky.
Hard Flat Kites
The hard flat dragon kite is also made from silk and bamboo and paper. The frame may be curved and straight as needed to depict a dragon in flight. The silk is painted to depict the dragon head, wings and body in detail. Silk and paper embellishments may be added to represent scales and other parts of the dragon.
Dragon Head Kites
An original dragon head kite was made from silk and bamboo. Current construction methods can use dowels and string, lightweight paper and packing tape. The head is formed with these items and then long streamers can be made from strip-cut garbage bags. Markers can be used to decorate both the dragon's head and the streamers. Crepe paper streamers may also be used.
Modern Version of Flat Dragon Kite
Many newer versions of the flat dragon kite can be made with ripstop nylon fabric. Carbon and brass tubes can be used to form the framework. The ripstop nylon is sewn into the desired shapes with applique work forming the details of the dragon. Some parts of the dragon's body may even be made three-dimensional based on a windsock form. You may wish to use seam binding to reinforce the edges of the wings. A sewing machine and thread will make assembly much faster.