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Friday, May 12, 2017

THE POPULARITY AND USE OF LADIES FANS


Fans have been used throughout the ages for many different purposes. First and foremost they have had a practical use for cooling oneself or another person. Who hasn’t seen pictures from centuries past of servants using large fans of various kinds to cool royalty or great personages?  

My first introduction to the use of fans was when I was a child living in Spain. Watching flamenco dancers use the fan as a part of their art was captivating.

While I’ve never personally witnessed it, I understand that fans have been used in other forms of dance also.  

Fans have been a fashion accessory since at least the
Queen Elizabeth I using a rigid feather fan
4th century BC. It’s been noted that ceremonial fans were used in church services to scare away insects away from the consecrated bread and wine.

Throughout all regions of the world fans have been in vogue for thousands of years. Fans from Asia found their way into the European culture in the seventeenth century.


In my post in March http://colonialquills.blogspot.com/2017/03/the-language-of-fan.html I addressed ladies using fans as a means of subtle and private communication with men in public. 

By the 18th century, specialized craftsmen were designing fans in leaves or
18th century painted folding fan
sticks. Folded fans were often decorated and painted.

A handheld fan might be shaped like a portion of a circle and made of a thin material and mounted on slats which revolve around a pivot so that it can be closed when not in use.

18th century painted folding fan







18th century gown with matching fan


The rigid or screen fan also gained some popularity during the 18th and 19th century though never as much as the folding fans because they were not as easy to carry.

The use of fans as a fashion adornment is not as common today, but they are still used to cool one’s self.
My fans



8 comments:

  1. Very interesting Janet. Some of those fans are lovely. Your fans are pretty. I have an old fan that folds similar to the 18th century painted folding fan that was my mother-in-law's. It has a large bird in it. She may have gotten it when they lived in Japan when her husband was stationed there. It's very pretty.
    Blessings, Tina

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  2. Your fan sounds lovely, Tina. Fans seem to have been used throughout the world.

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  3. Thank you for the spotlight on fans. I love them. Have several that were my mother's. And I've purchased one or two on my own.

    I well remember reading your earlier post on the subtle communication of fans. But if everyone knew those signals, just how subtle was it, really?

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    1. Excellent point, Judith.
      And, how easy to get confused and send the wrong message.

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  4. When I think of fans, I always think of southern women holding their fans and creating a slight movement in the air and saying, "Oh my! I have the vapors." :-)

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  5. I've always been fascinated by hand-fans. I started collecting them when I was a child.

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    1. Wow, Jennifer. That must be fun. I've found there is such a wide variety of them.

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