Living in Spain and bringing up a Spanglish family during the current 'crisis' and trying various ways to make some 'dinero'. Enjoying life in the sun, crafting and blogging as much as possible.

1 Jul 2013

History of the Hand Fan


The origin of fans can be traced back to the Pharaohs in Egypt. Paintings show fans made of ostrich feathers. Fans were important in the culture of China and Japan in the Aztec civilisation. The Japanese were the first to make the fans foldable, apparently inspired by a bat's wing.

The use of fans appears to have been brought into Europe in the 16th Century, when the Portuguese opened up trade routes to the Far East. In those days, it was only upper class ladies who used them as they were expensive objects. However, the technology of the fans was not complicated and soon the European industry arose. Fans were then used by everyone and it was the shape, size, colour and material which determined the ladies' status and class. In the 18th Century, a Frenchman settled in Spain and made quality fans to match those in the rest of Europe. At the same time, the world's only fan association - The Fanmakers' Guild of Craftmanship - was formed in Madrid and, in 1802, the Royal Factory of Fans was established in Valencia. In the 19th Century, the use of hand fans expanded among the most refined upper class and it was used by both men and women. It was from this time that Valencia became the largest city of hand fan craftsman production. Spain, today, is one of the few European countries that still manufacture fans, and a school of fan making exists in Cadiz.

Using a hand fan is still very popular today. Gone are the days when they were used only by the upper class. Nowadays, hand fans are about any shape, design and colour one can imagine. They can be personalised with words, pictures, slogans or images of your choice. There still seems an air of mystery about them - we imagine shy ladies using one to hide their face! We are more curious about what is hidden! The use of the hand fan can also be a form of eccentricity, as used by the designer Karl Lagerfeld who is never photographed without a fan.

There is no doubt about it, temperatures are on the rise and, if you want to stay cool, the answer is here - the Spanish Abanico, or hand fan!

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