Art, technique and history.
It is easy to imagine the first settlers waving leaves to cool themselves.
T he first rigid fans recorded are probably those depicted in the paintings and wall carvings in the tomb of Tutankhamen in Egypt (circa 1350 BC). Others were also recorded in China (circa 200 BC). These early fans were made from feathers, woven reeds, bamboo, papyrus, parchment, wood, followed by silk and paper.
One can imagine the fan most probably originated in the form of a conveniently sized leaf used by early man in the hot regions of the world and waived so as to cool his body and keep away files. It has subsequently developed during the last 3,000 years to become: a ceremonial item, treasure, souvenir, gift, fashion accessory, collector’s item and promotional aid. Most of all it is and always will be a practical item for personal use. It is easy to carry and can be used in warm places far removed from hot regions, such as: theatres, opera houses, discotheques and television studios.
I n Europe rigid fans appeared in the late 16th century, with the folding fans appearing in the 18 th century and made in various countries, the principal manufacturers being in Spain, France, England, Italy, Holland and Germany, These manufacturers employed the full range of materials to meet the demands for fashionable accoutrements, such as: wood, ivory, tortoiseshell, mother of pearl, gold, silver, lacquer, silk, gauze, lace, hand painted and printed. The development continued into the 19 th and early 20 th centuries, with more specialist designs.
It is generally agreed that the peak of fan development in Europe was reached in the early 1880’s. However the effect of two world wars in the first half of the 20 th century substantially reduced the use and development of fans. It was not until the 1960' s when tourism in Europe advanced the development of souvenir fans depicting holiday venues and the late 1980's saw the introduction of publicity fans. The hobby of collecting fans has also boomed in the last 20 years, creating new centers of interest and knowledge in this very versatile article.