Ancient peoples must have noticed the cooling effect of fanning themselves with their own hands; eventually this low-tech technique evolved into the simple hand fan that is still used today. The history of the hand fan reaches back more than 4,000 years, to ancient Egypt. Two costly decorative hand fans were included among the artifacts found in King Tut’s tomb. Hand fans are also mentioned in several ancient Greek and Roman texts, and also make an appearance in the Bible. The later, folding fan originated in ancient China or Japan and was considered more functional, as the non-folding hand fan is cumbersome to carry around and would have been used mainly by the higher classes to shield their faces from the sun.
Both forms of fan have since become a canvas for incredibly detailed and beautiful art pieces. In addition to the decorative emblems, patterns, and scenes that adorn many ancient hand fans, the way in which a woman held her fan in Victorian times was a form of communication unto itself. For example, to hold the fan lightly in the left hand and give it a small flutter meant “they are watching us”, while to fan quickly meant that the fanner was engaged to be married.
No matter the message your students want to communicate, now they can create their very own decorative fans with our Fabertastic Fan art project! With two sides to decorate, students may choose to use their fans as storytelling pieces or double-sided art pieces. Using beeswax crayons, gel crayons, colored-pencils, and water-soluble markers, students can create one-of-a-kind designs that are decorative and functional!
Download a complete lesson plan for this project, including images, step-by-step directions, and a materials list, today!
For Grades 5-12.