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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.

Sources:

The Canary Tea Pine

The Canary tea pine is a very common wood in the Canary traditions, its beauty and strength, but difficult to work, perfectly supports the weather. A clear example is La Casa de los Balcones, used in many of its installations, it has never been treated or painted and thus can appreciate the delicacy, neatness and the beautiful craftsmanship of master carpenters that worked it. It’s been four hundred years and even summarizes wood resin.

Patio central de La Casa de Los Balcones en La Orotava

central courtyard of  La Casa de Los Balcones en La Orotava

  • Name: Pine Tea pine
  • Also known as: tea Canary Island pine, loblolly pine, loblolly pine tea ,,
  • Color: Wood is provided heartwood. Dark brown and reddish caramel aspect.
  • Hometown: Canary Islands.
  • Properties: Very heavy. white pine and loblolly pine. Little nervous. Hard. Difficult to work because of its fragility. It isn´t impregnable as it is already impregnated with resin.
  • Applications: Woodworking. exterior carpentry: lattice windows, carpentry work view (does not require treatment for his incorruptible character).
  • Other information: Fibre is straight. tea timber is translucent in thin pieces (bottom thickness 1 cm).
Detalle del balcón de pino de tea en La Casa de Los Balcones

Detail of the tea pine balconie in La Casa de Los Balcones

Manta Esperancera

La Manta Esperancera
 

Many are the historical references that exist about “la manta esperancera” that used to be used by the canary preasants as a dress pledge. the cold of the humid and high zones of the island created a curious phenomenon; that the blanket, normally imported from England, passed from the beds to a clothing for the men of the countryside.

 

“An image of the snowy Teide, conserved in my memories, the most warm canary embrace with semlls of father and grandpa”

The root of the utilization of this clothes started with the strongest contacts of a commercial type that existed between Canaries and England and with the habitual importation of the “manta esperancera”, that was a natural white colour from the wool, with stripes colour blue near the extremes. There were raincoats, that were a great ally against the rain and the cold. “La manta” was folded in two halves, it was gathered at the neck and was used as a cloak.

Traje de Mago con su Manta Esperancera

John of the Cross refers in his book “Textiles and clothing of Tenerife” A. Diston text that accompanies the lámina “Man of Tacoronte”, his 1824 album reads: “The most striking part of hia outfit is an English blanket folded on a piece of rope tied around his neck. This forms a laver that shields him from the heavy rains that fall in the high dwelling place where he lives and , wrapped in it, spends the night without undressing, lying on the floor of his miserable hut or on a bed of straw. Of all the blankets to Tenerife, not a quarter is used to cover the beds, almost all the farmers take hem as shown here.

The Manila Shawl

Exquisite and colorful garment which takes its name from the city of Manila, capital of the former Spanish colony of the Philippines, where a great quantity of products from the Orient were shipped by Spanish galleons to be brought to Spain.

Mantón de Manila en la Casa de Los Balcones
The shawl was a great success especially in Seville where it began to be used between the singers and “dancers” of flamenco. It also enjoyed a quick popularity in Mexico, with these two areas “driving” of the garment to be the main commerce of the major routes in maritime trade in the sixteenth century.

Diferentes Mantones de Manila disponibles en la Casa de Los Balcones
However, this peculiar garment has its origin in China. They were made of silk and hand embroidered. The decorative motifs, originally were mainly bamboo, dragons and pagodas; but because of the Spanish preferences and to facilitate marketing were changed by more typical motifs of our culture such as flowers, birds, medallions and flower-pots. One of the motifs that has had most acceptance has always been roses, perhaps fot its symbolism reflected in the Passion of Christ. There are some who adjudicate meanings to each type of flower and so lily is purity; Daisy: impatience; rose: secret; sunflower: fidelity…

Mantón de Manila en la Casa de Los Balcones
It notes that the first Shawls of Manila had no fringes. It was in Spain where they were added. The lattice fringe and the sumptuous and elaborate embroidery, are primarily responsible for the high cost, but undoubtedly, also, for its great beauty.

Manton de Manila

Canarian knife

The Canarian Knife

The Canarian knife, valuable piece of craftsmanship while a useful tool, totally handmade, is characterized by a handle or end, beautiful and striking which makes it also very popular among collectors. This handle is worked in materials such as gold, silver, alpaca (copper, zinc and nickel), ivory, the ram’s horn (black and white blond) and ebony. Its blades, forged by a blacksmith are made of gold, silver, alpaca, Damascene steel, stainless steel and carbon steel (alloy of iron and carbon).

 

El Cuchillo Canario
On the origin and history of the Canary Islands knife several theories exist. Located chronologically by some in the thirteenth century, others say their presence in the Canary Islands does not go back beyond the mid-nineteenth century, associated with the early banana cultivation. Which is also known as “Naife”, from the English word “knife” would lead us to the theory that it was the British who brought it to the islands and yet the peculiar characteristics of the handle suggest a North African origin. Finally, after many studies, Don Alejandro Moreno and C. Marrero point out that – “the origin of the Canary Knife is in those peninsular territories where Arabs remained after the Reconquest finished. For further signs, I would say are focused or located in the regions of Toledo and Albacete, cities where, as was written by Martinez del Peral, making knives comes from the Moors, skilled artisans in cutting and treating metals “-.

Colección de cuchillos canarios en la Casa de Los Balcones, La Orotava
And in the Canary Islands, the knife took roots as an essential tool for the caltle breeder  and the farmer and between the first written references, we draw attention to the words of the English Olivia Stone, in 1885: “Islanders have at least a good habit. Wearly all men and boys carry knives, but as soon as the fight begins, throw them far away. If this practice was not well established, the passionate blood would lead to many terrible tragedies. ”

Campesino con Cuchillo Canario
Being motive of study for many, the Canarian knife can be classified by reference to the handle, in: Wooden handle knife, after Summit handle knife, knife after Coast handle knife and out of Flower handle Knife. Also, according to the length of the knife blade we find the Pastor, of 18 cm; Farm Knife or Platanero of 21 cm and Pitero knife, more than 23 cm. Finally, considering the materials used in their preparation they are divided into work knives and Jewel-Knives.

It has been deserving even of a monument to the Canarian knife, located at the end of Lomo Guillen (Guía of Gran Canaria), this city has been considered since time immemorial the quintessential land of knife.

Monumento
According Bel says, if you give a Canarian knife to someone, it is desirable that in exchange you receive a coin from the recipient, which is the only way to assure of peace between the two people.

Bibliografía:

  • Consideraciones Generales sobre el origen y procedencia del Cuchillo Canario, por Alejandro C. Moreno y Marrero.
  • “La huella de tus manos”, de Stavros Meletlidis.
  • Fotografás de Stavros Meletlidis.