themes and issues

How it all began: feather and paper fans

Sometimes, when we’re really hot, we tend to use any flat object within our reach, a book, a magazine 😉 and wave it back and forth in front of us to get some refreshment. And that is very likely how it all began, and paper fans were invented and started to be used in ancient China, Persia, Japan, Egypt and Europe.

In the courts of kings and emperors slaves used to move beautiful fans made of feathers to give their sovereigns some relief from the heat. These types of fans had feathers (usually a peacock’s) mounted on a long stick, often made of bamboo.

It was only later, in 7th century Japan, that the hand-held folding fan was invented.

They were originally made from thin stripes of cypress, to which paper was attached. They were then imported to China where, during the Ming dynasty, they started to be made with thick paper and were beautifully decorated by Chinese artists.

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