The Story of the Handheld, Handcrafted Handmade Fan

Art History/Craft History

The Story of the Handheld, Handcrafted Handmade Fan

Gordhandas, Kishor N.

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How did it all begin, this use of a fan? No one really knows - except the first person on this earth who must have felt hot and picked up a palmetto leaf to 'agitate the air' and cooled himself down. Today the London Worshipful Company of Fan Makers is almost totally concerned with air-conditioning units, which is as it should be, but through what a rich series of deviations the fan has travelled between that time and this! Someone has said correctly: "In this air-conditioned age the cooling fan has almost disappeared. A sad loss to polite society, for a fan could accentuate wit and puncture indiscretion."
The fan as described in Purnell's New English Encyclopaedia is an instrument held in hand used to create a current of cool air. The complicated explanation of a hand fan given in the 'Reader's Digest' dictionary, is: A hand-waved implement for creating a current of air or breeze, especially one in the form of flat, fixed or collapsible devise, usually round or approximately semi-circular and made of a light material such as silk, paper or fine ivory. The fan is a miniature compendium of art and love. The use of the fan dates from the dawn of time as it accompanied the Sun around the world, cooling people down. Hand fans offer us an insight into these small objects that are as beautiful in form, design, and detail as these are functional. The bird in the cage would beat their wings and provide a cool b...
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