Artifact of the Week

Why is this fan so ornate?

How long have fans been around?



Answers:

Why is this fan so ornate?

In Europe in the eighteenth century, hand-fans became popular among the nobility after the invention of the folding fan. Fans like this one often depicted scenes from courtship, sometimes with embellishments made out of gold. Ornament such as this served to mark status, leading to ever more intricate designs. By the 19th century the stylish accessory had caught on among the lower classes as well, who often sported more practical versions.

How long have fans been around?

Fans have been made and used by various cultures since at least ancient times. Some of the earliest records we have about fans describe the use of large fans in religious services, to help keep insects away from the altar. They shrank in size once people discovered how to make a folding type. This one is currently on display as part of our Around the World in 80 Days exhibit — come check it out!



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