Traditional Silk Fans and Palace Hand Fans Facts and Features
Our Chinese traditional silk fans or palace hand fans are full handicrafts of Chinese artisans. They have a translucent, gauzy-textured fan leaf that is made of genuine silk cloth and mounted on a round, smooth-edged square, or oval-shaped wooden or bamboo frame, which is subsequently fixed to a long handle.
Each Chinese traditional silk fan or palace hand fan features a colorful hand-painting that illustrates the different types of Chinese flowers, birds, or fishes; the beauty of Asian landscape; or, the scenes of ancient Chinese lifestyle – all of which is skillfully done by Chinese artists and which makes each traditional silk fan unique from the rest and valuable as a present and future Asian work of art.
We also have blank silk paddle fans
, which you and family, friends, and kids can have fun with and turn into your own Chinese traditional silk fans using fabric paints, fabric markers, and Chinese calligraphy brush and ink sets
. You may also want to try our wooden paddle fans
for crafts and don't forget to finish your DIY palace hand fans with Chinese tassels
to give them a superb Asian twist.
Chinese Palace Fans and How They Remain an Iconic Chinese Handicraft
The Key Design and Uses of Traditional Chinese Hand Fans
Chinese fans, generally known as Shan
, with a rigid leaf and long handle traditionally were round-shaped and called by many elegant names, like the Wan Shan, Lou Shan, Bing Mian, Bian Mian, and Zhang Mian. They were popular in China during the Han Dynasty (202 BC-AD 204) until the end of Song Dynasty (960-1279), when the folding fans were discovered.1,2
For everyday use, Chinese hand fans were made of palm or bamboo, while large varieties with long handles, generally held in pairs in imperial processions, were also recorded in the 11th century B.C. and were known Staff or Screen Fans. They were generally made of feather or some other luxurious material and, together with imperial banners and insignias, were made part of the decorative ceremonial equipment of the royal retinue.2
The best ones, however, of these traditional Chinese hand fans were covered by white silk from East China's Shandong Province and have handles crafted out of bamboo from Central China's Hunan Province. They were popular among the Chinese scholars who would wave their fans to show off their grace as they composed poetry or sat deep in thought and when not in use, concealed them inside their sleeves or hang them from the waist. For the aristocratic young women, Chinese traditional silk fans were used as a kind of prop to show off their grace and beauty. And whenever they met a strange man, they would use their fans to hide their faces, thus women's fan's were called Zhang Mian
, which means hiding face
.1The Chinese Art of Fan Painting
From the early point in time, Chinese hand fans were already noted for their exquisite craftsmanship, colorful paintings, or the poems and calligraphy writings inscribed on their leaf, and this practice of Chinese fan painting and writing was recorded very early. For instance: 1,2In 33 B.C., the consort of Emperor Ch'eng of the Han Dynasty already wrote lyrics on fans;
During the Jin Dynasty (265-420), the famous calligrapher Wang Xizhi once met an old woman selling fans on the street. He wrote five (5) characters on each fan, which made the woman angry because she thought her fans had all been ruined. But when people discovered the artist's words on the otherwise ordinary fans, they sold like hot cakes and at high prices.1
By the Song Dynasty (960-1279), painted circular fans were popular among the Court circles, court artists, and emperors, thus they were famed as Palace Fans.2
Due to the fragility of silk as a canvas for painting, just a few of these fan paintings initially survived for a great length of time, thus fan collectors would dismount their round silk fan's painted leaf from their frame and remounted them as album leaves and sometimes as scrolls. Until today, Chinese traditional hand fans remain a highly-prized collector's item because of their one-of-a-kind artwork. A lot of them also carry the great designs of famous modern Chinese painters and calligraphy artists and standout among luxury collections or kept as a legacy for generations.1References: