Monday, November 1, 2010

History Of The Chinese Hand Held Fan

The first Chinese fans were nothing more than bird feathers or large leaves. Tradition holds that King Wu of the Zhou Dynasty in the 11th century B.C. invented the Chinese hand-held fan, and the oldest known Chinese hand held fan was found in China in 1982 and is approximately 2,300 years old. The earliest half-moon fans were constructed of silk wrapped around bamboo spokes that were arranged in a semi-circle.

Fans were used only by the members of the royal court for many centuries, only becoming available to the general public during the Han Dynasty, 206 B.C. - 220 A.D. By the time of the Jin Dynasty, 317-420 A.D., so many fans were being made that the emperor halted the use of silk in their manufacture because silk
producers could not keep up.

While the Chinese are credited with the invention of the half-moon hand held fan, these first fans did not fold like modern ones do. The folding half-moon fan was brought to China in the 11th century A.D. from Japan. Today Chinese fans are still made from the traditional bamboo and silk materials, and also of paper, wood, bone, palm tree leaves and other materials.

During the 5th century A.D. the moon fan, or round fan became very popular. Young ladies, especially those inside the imperial palace were very fond of these. These round fans later took on other shapes also, such as oval. The ancient Chinese were a very artistic culture. Everyday items such as fans were valued not only for their functionality, but by their beauty. Fan painting and decoration are but one example of this. There has been a revival of the ancient art form of the Chinese Hand Held Fan. Thy are things of beauty that can add to the decor of any home.


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Worked in a steel mill for 30 years. Amateur chef, piano player, book reader, letter writer, gardener, peace advocate.