Monday, December 7, 2015

Broken Etiquette Gave Us Fans

Secret fan codes and fan languages never really existed in the etiquette books of old. They were created in the latter Victorian Era as a clever marketing device to increase the sale of fans. The promotion of the fictional language and codes worked, and sales of fans briefly increased.

The Origin of Fans

Fans are the cheapest luxury of tbe day. The Chinese have given us an article, well made of bamboo and embellished paper, that may be had for two nickels. When the cost of importation is considered, the pay of labor in China is apparent. 

Fans are said to have originated in China 3,000 years ago. At a feast of lanterns the lovely Kansi found the heat so oppressive that, contrary to all etiquette, she took off her mask. Partly to hide ber blushes, and partly to cool her heated face, she agitated the mask before her nose. The thing became epidemic. Ten thousand hands at once held ten thousand masks, and fanning became a fact. 

The fan was used as a standard in war, and in peace the fan assisted tbe priests in the temple, both to raising a cooling breeze and to guard the stored offerings from the contamination of noxious insects. In Egypt the fan of the priest of Isis was made of feathers of different lengths, spread out in the form of a semicircle, but pointed at tbe top. It was waved by a female slave. Amoug the Romans, slaves cooled the room and kept away the flies during meal time with fans. 

In the days of Louis XIV and XV, fans glistened with gilding and gems, and were ornamented by Boucher and Watteau. These works of art were often sold at as high a figure as $75. The Chinese and French are the great rivals in fan making. To such a degree of excellence has it arrived in France, that a fan selling for one cent goes through twenty different operations, performed by as many pairs of hands.— Los Angeles Herald, 1878

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Moderator and Editor for Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

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