The origin of hand fans can be traced at least back to ancient Egypt, where the fan was seen as a sacred instrument used in religious ceremonies, & as a symbol of royalty power. Two elaborate fans were found in King Tutankhaumuns's tomb, one with a golden handle covered in ostrich feathers & the other was ebony, covered with gold & precious stones. Drawings from 3000 years ago show elegant Chinese ladies using fans. The ancient Greeks wrote poems of fans being the "scepters of feminine beauty" & Romans brought Greek fans back to Rome as objects of great value.
In the 1600s, China was importing huge quantities of exotic fans into Europe, which could provide self-cooling; prevent an unwanted tan; & shield eyes from the sun. By the 18th century, fans had become more than utilitarian, they were objects d'art for the fashionable lady. Fans became even more popular, as the fad of masquerade balls spread across Europe in that century, hiding the faces of their owners. They came to be part of an elaborate ritual of flirtation that carried on into the 19th-century.
Alfred Stevens (1828-1906) The Lady with the Fan
Jacques-Joseph Tissot (1836-1902) Young Lady with a Fan
Edgar Degas (1834-1917). Woman Seated on a Balcony
Winslow Homer (1836-1910) Detail Spanish Girl with Fan
Gustav Klimt (1862-1918). Lady With Fan
Jacques-Joseph Tissot (1836-1902) The Fan
Pierre Auguste Renoir (1841-1919). Girl with Fan
For more fans click here.