The Fan: Flirtation, Ritual and Mystery as Old as Time

The fan itself may not be as old as time, but flirtation certainly must be. Was Adam enticed to eat the apple when Eve's flirtatious eyes fluttered above a palm frond, gently wafting a cooling breeze in the sunlit Garden of Eden?

Practical, ceremonial or decorative - fans were in use more than 3000 years ago and the form has changed, but surprisingly little, over those thousands of years. Fans of a simple design were discovered in 1922 inside Tutankhamen's tomb. A fixed palmate screen fan, mounted on a long handle and wafted by Cleopatra's slaves, an ancient Chinese hand fan made of beaten gold, an extravagant peacock feather fan from Asia 500 years BC - all would be instantly recognizable as symbols of luxury and rank but with a practical purpose too.

 

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