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. They also make an appearance in the Bible. The later folding fan originated in ancient Japan and was considered more functional, as the normal hand fan was cumbersome to carry around and would have been used mainly by the higher classes to shield their faces from the sun.
Hand Fans as Art
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, holding the fan lightly in the left hand and giving it a small flutter meant “they are watching us.” 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!
Art Lesson Plan: FABERtastic Fans
Follow the link above for the Hand Fans as Art Pieces lesson plan, including images, step-by-step directions, and a materials list. Suitable for Grades 5-12.
What are some ancient objects you like to use as an artistic medium? Let us know in the comments below!