Korean Kite Gift

Authors: 
Scott Skinner
Article type: 
Journal

The Drachen Foundation was the recipient of an exciting gift in late 2000. Fifteen Korean kites, all over 100 years old, made a circuitous journey into the Drachen collection. The kites were originally bought by or given to Georges Lefevre, French consul to the Orient in the 1890s. They passed within his family to his grandchildren, one of whom gave them to Dr. Francoise Forriere, former president of the French kite club, Le Doit Du Vent (The Wind Club?). Francoise was unsure of what to do with these fragile, airborne time capsules and was encouraged by members of the Zoone Collective to gift them to the Foundation. Ramlel Tien and Christophe Charet helped make the exchange complete at the Art Kite Festival in Detmold, Germany, where the kites were presented for transport home to Seattle.

The journey of these kites reminded me of my first acquisition of Korean kites almost 20 years ago. While still in the Air Force, friends were reassigned to duty in Korea. Knowing, at least, that a Korean kite tradition existed, but little else, I sent a few dollars with my friends and asked that they search out good examples. Upon their return to the States almost three years later, I received a package containing two beautiful Korean fighters. My friends explained that they had looked several times – with no luck – and it was not until just before their departure that, at a local craft fair, they found Mr. Roe quietly sitting making kites.

I didn’t meet Mr. Roe until 2000, where I watched him conduct Korean kite making classes with Japanese children and adults in Nagasaki, Japan. I could picture him in that community center, skillfully making the fine examples that I had owned for almost 20 years. Now over 80, Mr. Roe continues the tradition that is little changed from that shown in the antique kites now in the Foundation’s collection.

Page Number: 
23