The Fan, Handicraft, Fashion and Decoration

The fan, this useful instrument is to refresh yourself with, at the same time an elegant and decorative fashion complement, and could also be classifed as a product of craftsmanship seen its delicate process of fabrication.

Its origens are imprecise and lost. If we take into account the moment in which man discovered fire, in the prehistory, now revives the coals reverting the objects in way of the fan. Now documented, we have knowledge that fans were used by egyptions, babylonians, persians, greeks and romans, thanks to the appearance of this instrument in the artistic representations of these people.

Ilustración de Abanico por @catatrujillo

Ilustración de Abanico por @catatrujillo

In ancient Egypt fans were large, semicircular, of feathers and with a long handle. Its function was twofold: to give air and scare away insects. It was also an ornamental object an indicative of power. Some quotes from various literary classics are proof that Greeks and Romans used fans.

In Chinese tradition the fan is ancient, dating back to the time of Emperor Hsien Yuan (2697 BC.). Some authors claim that the earliest archaeological evidence dates back to s. VIII. C. for the fixed fan in China and s. IX (877 d. C.) for the folding fan in Japan.

In the West, during the Middle Ages, the fan or “flabelum” becomes part of the Christian liturgy, being used in the consecration to protect the Eucharist from insects and refresh the celebrant. In Europe we know the fan from the late XV century on originating, from China and Japan, brought by the Portuguese in their trade routes to the East.

Abanico artesanal de La Casa de Los Balcones

It quickly became popular and reached its present form in the s. XVII century, unfolding since the in an all fashion fad and inventiveness of the miniaturists who introduced thread work, reliefs, inlays and precious materials.

In the eighteenth century Eugenio Prost a French craftsman settled in Spain under the protection of the Count of Floridablanca, making it one of the largest producers of fans worldwide. That same century was founded the fanmabers guild and early nineteenth century was founded the Royal Factory of Fans.

Initially the fan was used by both female and male, young men carried small examples in their pickets However, its use became almost exclusively to  ladies at the beginning of the XX century, up to this day.

Abanico artesanal de La Casa de Los Balcones

Ladies apparently became so skilled in using this device inventing an entire “language of the fan“, which consisted of the position in which they placed the fan, or the way it was held to convey a type of message or another. Younger women often resorted to this “language” to communicate frequently with their suitors in dances and public places without their mothers noticing or other jealous companions of its correct behavior.

Nowadays, is found in Cadiz  the only school-workshop of fans in the world, but all the material, craftsmen and artists are located on the outskirts of Aldaya, a town situated next to Valencia.

In La Casa de Los Balcones we have a wide assortment of the best fans in various colors, with hand-painted drawings, with lace and of different sizes.

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