Hand fan has been used in ceremonies and as a fashion statement since centuries. Explore this article to know some interesting & amazing information on history, origin & background of hand fans.

History Of Hand Fan

A hand-held fan is a device that is used to produce airflow for the purpose of cooling or refreshing oneself. It is shaped in a circle segment, made from a thin material such as paper or feather, which is mounted on slats and revolves around a pivot, so that the fan can be closed when not in use. The origin of hand fan can be dated back to as far as 4,000 years ago, in Egypt. At that time, it was considered a sacred instrument and used in religious ceremonies. It was also seen as a symbol of royalty, as is evident from the two elaborate fans found in King Tut’s tomb. Other cultures where hand fans were used include Persian, Hebrew, Greek, Roman and Chinese. Read on to know more interesting and amazing information on the history, origin and background of fans.
Interesting & Amazing Information On Origin & Background Of Hand Fans
Hand fan is known to have been invented in China and Japan, with both holding different legends of its creation. In Japan, the fan was created after the folding wings of a bat, while the Chinese believe that the sight of a woman fanning her facemask at a festival led to the tool’s creation. The hand fan was taken to Europe by way of trade routes in the 1500s. In Europe, it became an exotic and stylish symbol of wealth and class.
The Italians became the first users of the hand fan in Europe. Trade increased and so did the fans. In the 17th century, fan making became a professional undertaking and the ‘Guild of Fan Makers’ was established. Until the mid-17th century, hand fans were considered a luxury item and made from expensive materials. They were often bejeweled as well. Printed fans turned up with the French Revolution, produced to make a political statement.
The next hundred years saw a large range and variety of hand fans being developed. By the 18th century, they were being produced in almost all the countries across the world. Some even developed painted fans, which eventually became a recognized art form. In the 1920s, a single ostrich plume became a high fashion statement that was dyed to the same color as one’s dress. However, the early 20th century saw a decline in the use of hand fans, though they were still produced as an advertising medium.
Spain engrained hand fans into their culture and still use them for their original purpose - that of keeping cool. The Japanese hand fan symbolizes various things, such as friendship, respect and good wishes. It is gifted to people on special occasions and forms an important stage prop for various Japanese dance performances. Japanese believe that the handle of the fan represents the beginning of life and the ribs are for the roads of life, going out in all directions.
In the present times, there are different styles of fans that are being manufactured, namely folding, brisé (made from separate sticks, linked together top and bottom), cockade (opens into a full circle) and a simple rigid shape on a handle. The two outer sticks are known as guards and are more decorated. Materials like tortoiseshell, ivory, bone, mother of pearl, metal and wood are used as guards and sticks. However, they are now more used for decorative purposes, rather than functional.

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