The Magic of Fans
This is the name of an exhibition prepared by a museum in Pilsen for the upcoming ball season.
Fans were always important accessories to formal dresses. In two rooms you may inspect fans created by French, Italian. English or Dutch artists. They are arranged in 12 display cases according to age or to construction type.
Around 3000 years B.C., a fan made from ostrich feathers was created in Egypt. Several fans were also found inside the Tutanchamon vault. In old Greece and the Roman Empire fans were considered luxury items. They were made from dry palm leaves or from feathers.
First written descriptions about folding fans can be found in inventories from around 1578. The fans were decorated with aquarelle or gouache paintings. Since the 17th century the paintings often represented the goddess Diana, country celebrations, nymphs, plants, flowers, and the eternal theme of love?
In the 18th century the fans also have modern motives-various flying machines, balloons, pigeons and music instruments, and later also bird feathers. Of interest is also the so-called "fan language." Every movement with the fan meant something. For example, holding the fan to your heart meant "I love you." Dropping it on the floor meant: "We have to meet in private." Total closing of the fan meant: "I am angry." The fan on the right cheek meant "yes", on the left it meant"no". Placing the fan on your right arm meant" "The next dance is yours."
In the 19th century fans appeared in the "salons". They were decorated with mother-ofpearl, metals and gold ornaments. Some fans with miniatures were very beautiful. Such fans would be even produced on special orders.
In the 20th century the fans were mostly made from featherschicken, ostrich, or other exotic birds. Some fans even carried names of various businesses ( a precursor of today's business cards.)
The latest change are fans made from plastic materials. Plastics were also used in collars, corsets, toys, billfolds, eyeglass frames, artificial dentures, jewelry and fans.
You may see this interesting exhibition in Pilsen from now on until January 28 2007. You will certainly find here a fan that you might want to wear.Dr. L. Maskova, Translation by Marie Dolanska
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Horálkovic rodina a zvířena II.
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