SFDH Logo (tiny)

The Society of Folk Dance Historians (SFDH)

Language of the Fan
By Richard Duree, 2009

[ Home | About | Encyclopedia |
| Publications | Members ]


Richard Duree 2002

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."


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

This page © 2018 by Ron Houston.
Please do not copy any part of this page without including this copyright notice.
Please do not copy small portions out of context.
Please do not copy large portions without permission from Ron Houston.