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The Society of Folk Dance Historians (SFDH)

Language of the Fan
By Richard Duree, 2009

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Richard Duree 2002

BACKGROUND

Information: Fans have been used by women as fashion accessories for centuries. The fan serves a multitude of uses, keeping the lady's hands occupied, drawing another's attention, accenting her dress – and for sending discreet messages, a skill long forgotten, but an essential part of a young person's education. From Early California history, here are examples of some of the discreet messages.


Language of the Fan ♥ The lady appears at the balcony, slowly fanning her face, then she shuts the fan: "I can't go out."

♥ If she does it excitedly, not shutting the fan: "I'll go out soon."

♥ Resting the fan on her lips: "I don't trust you."

♥ Running her fingers through the fan's ribs: "I want to talk with you."

♥ Fanning herself quickly: "I love you so much."

♥ Fanning herself slowly: "Don't waste your time as I don't care about you."

♥ Moving her hair off of her forehead: "Don't forget me."

♥ Passing the fan from hand to hand: "I see you are looking at another woman."

♥ Hitting her hand's palm" "Love me."

♥ Carrying the fan closed and hanging from her left hand: "I'm engaged."

♥ Closing the fan quickly and impetuously: "I'm jealous."

♥ Dropping the fan: "I belong to you."

♥ Resting the fan on her ear: "My love for you makes me suffer."

♥ Half-opening the fan over her face: "We are being watched."

♥ Hitting any object: "I'm impatient."

♥ Hiding the sunlight: "You are ugly."

♥ Looking closely at the painting on the fan: "I like you."


DOCUMENT


Used with permission of the author.
Printed in Folk Dance Scene, February 2009.


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