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|It has been suggested that European Hand Fans in the Eighteenth Century be merged into this article or section. (Discuss) Proposed since December 2010.|
The movement of a hand-held fan provides cooling by increasing the airflow over the skin which in turn increases the evaporation rate of sweat droplets on the skin. This evaporation has a cooling effect due to the latent heat of evaporation of water. Fans are convenient to carry around, especially folding fans.
 East Asiabamboo side-mounted fans from the 2nd century BC. The Chinese character for "fan" (扇) is etymologically derived from a picture of feathers under a roof. The Chinese fixed fan, pien-mien, means 'to agitate the air'. A particular status and gender would be associated with a specific type of fan. During the Song Dynasty, famous artists were often commissioned to paint fans. The Chinese dancing fan was developed in the 7th century. The Chinese form of the hand fan was a row of feathers mounted in the end of a handle. In the later centuries, Chinese poems and four-word idioms were used to decorate the fans by using Chinese calligraphy pens.
Japan around the 6th to 8th century. It was a court fan called the Akomeogi (衵扇 Akomeōgi ) after the court women's dress named Akome. According to the Song Sui (History of Song), a Japanese monk Chonen (奝然 Chōnen , 938－1016) offered the folding fans (twenty wooden-bladed fans hiogi (桧扇 hiōgi ) and two paper fans kawahori-ogi (蝙蝠扇 kawahori-ōgi )) to the emperor of China in 988. Later in 11th century, Korean envoys brought along Korean folding fans which were of Japanese origin as gifts to Chinese court. The popularity of folding fans was such that sumptuary laws were promulgated during Heian period which restricted the decoration of both hiogi and paper folding fans. They were made by tying thin stripes of hinoki (or Japanese cypress) together with thread. The number of strips of wood differed according to the person's rank. Later in the 16th century Portuguese traders introduced it to the west and soon both men and women throughout the continent adopted it. They are used today by Shinto priests in formal costume and in the formal costume of the Japanese court (they can be seen used by the Emperor and Empress during coronation and marriage) and are brightly painted with long tassels. Simple Japanese paper fans are sometimes known as harisen. In Japanese pop culture, harisen are featured in anime and graphic novels as comedic weapons.
Printed fan leaves and painted fans are done on a paper ground. The paper was originally hand made and displayed the characteristic watermarks. Machine made paper fans, introduced in the 19th century, are smoother with an even texture.
Geisha of all types (but maiko most often) use folding fans in their fan dances as well, and the Korean fan dance of buchaechum is very popular.
 the non-bending fans (uchiwa) are popular and commonplace. The fan is primarily used for fanning oneself in hot weather.
The fan symbolizes friendship, respect and good wishes. They are given on special occasions, and they are also an important stage prop in Japanese dance.
It was also used in the military as a way of sending signals on the field of battle, however fans were mainly used for social and court activities. In Japan, fans were variously used by warriors as a form of weapon, by actors and dancers for performances, and by children as a toy.
In China, the folding fan, introduced from Japan, came into fashion during the Ming dynasty between the years of 1368 and 1644, and Hangzhou was a center of folding fan production. The Mai Ogi (or Chinese dancing fan) has ten sticks and a thick paper mount showing the family crest. Chinese painters crafted many fan decoration designs. The slats, of ivory, bone, mica, mother of pearl, sandalwood, or tortoise shell, were carved and covered with paper or fabric. Folding fans have "montures" which are the sticks and guards. The leaves are usually painted by craftsman. Social significance was attached to the fan in the Far East. The management of the fan became a highly regarded feminine art. The function and employment of the fan reached its high point of social significance (fans were even used as a weapon - called the iron fan, or tiě shān in Chinese, tessen in Japanese; see Korean fighting fan for Korean use).
 Europeancient Greece at least since the 4th century BC and was known under the name rhipis (Greek: ῥιπίς). In Europe, during the Middle Ages, the fan was absent. Christian Europe's earliest fan was the flabellum (or ceremonial fan), which dates to the 6th century. These were used during services to drive insects away from the consecrated bread and wine. Their use died out in western Europe during the Middle Ages, but continues in the Eastern Orthodox and Ethiopian Churches. Hand fans were reintroduced to Europe in the 13th and 14th centuries. Fans from the Middle East were brought back by Crusaders. In the 15th century, Portuguese traders brought fans to Europe from China and Japan. Fans became generally popular.
In the 17th century the folding fan, introduced from East Asia, became popular in Europe. These fans are particularly well displayed in the portraits of the high-born women of the era. Queen Elizabeth 1st of England can be seen to carry both folding fans decorated with pom poms on their guardsticks as well as the older style rigid fan, usually decorated with feathers and jewels. These rigid style fans often hung from the skirts of ladies, but of the fans of this era it is only the more exotic folding ones which have survived. Those folding fans of the 15th century found in museums today have either leather leaves with cut out designs forming a lace-like design or a more rigid leaf with inlays of more exotic materials like mica. One of the characteristics of these fans is the rather crude bone or ivory sticks and the way the leather leaves are often slotted onto the sticks rather than glued as with later folding fans. Fans made entirely of decorated sticks without a fan 'leaf' were known as brisé fans. However, despite the relative crude methods of construction folding fans were at this era high status, exotic items on par with elaborate gloves as gifts to royalty.
In the 17th century the rigid fan which was seen in portraits of the previous century had fallen out of favour as folding fans gained dominance in Europe. Fans started to display well painted leaves, often with a religious or classical subject. The reverse side of these early fans also started to display elaborate flower designs. The sticks are often plain ivory or tortoiseshell, sometimes inlaid with gold or silver pique work. The way the sticks sit close to each other, often with little or no space between them is one of the distinguishing characteristics of fans of this era.
In 1685 the Edict of Nantes was revoked in France. This caused large scale immigration from France to the surrounding Protestant countries (such as England) of many fan craftsman. This dispersion in skill is reflected in the growing quality of many fans from these non-French countries after this date.
silk, or parchment were decorated and painted by artists. Fans were also imported from China by the East India Companies at this time. Around the middle 18th century, inventors started designing mechanical fans. Wind-up fans (similar to wind-up clocks) were popular in the 18th century. In the 19th century in the West, European fashion caused fan decoration and size to vary.
It has been said that in the courts of England, Spain and elsewhere fans were used in a more or less secret, unspoken code of messages These fan languages were a way to cope with the restricting social etiquette. However, modern research has proved that this was a marketing ploy developed in the 18th century (FANA Journal, spring 2004, Fact & Fiction about the language of the fan by J.P. Ryan) - one that has kept its appeal remarkably over the succeeding centuries. This is now used for marketing by fan makers like Cussons & Sons & Co. Ltd who produced a series of advertisements in 1954 showing "the language of the fan" with fans supplied by the well known French fan maker Duvelleroy.
 CategoriesHand fans have two general categories:
- Flat fans (Chinese: 平扇, pǐng shàn; Japanese: 団扇, uchiwa, cannot be folded): circular fans, palm-leaf fans, straw fans, feather fans, etc.
- Folding fans (Chinese: 折扇, zhě shàn; Japanese: 扇子, sensu, can be freely opened): silk folding fans, paper folding fans, sandalwood fans, etc.