Chapter 14: Unfolding Arch of Forging Fantasy

In this track we wanted to research the fan as a communicative tool. Few historic totems carried as much symbolic weight as the handheld decorative fan. Hand fans were absent in Europe during the Middle Ages until they were reintroduced in the 13th and 14th centuries through Venice, when fans from the Middle East were brought by crusaders and refugees from Constantinople. Traders brought them from China and Japan in the 16th century, and fans became generally popular. During a certain period of time, the fan became an ideal instrument of communication in an age in which freedom of speech for women was absolutely restricted. The main gestures were known as ‘the language of the fan’. The earliest such language was made up of individual letters, and later variations were ‘extensions of body language’, mostly to transmit a love code.

Not only are fans beautiful, a great means of communication, used in social etiquette and thus a carrier of expression in many cultures, they are also foremost practical objects to carry on a warm day in times of climate change. The ornate, dramatic and once-ubiquitous item is worth resurrecting now more than ever: wouldn’t it be great to develop an updated messaging system for these battery-free tools to cool down?

All rights reserved

Image credits

Header image: The Unfolding Arch..

Icon image: The Unfolding Arch..