Monday, October 20, 2008

Language of the Fan

Hello my friends! I just purchased a beautiful little fan (from the twenty's) at the Orange circle in Orange county. I was looking at it and thinking of the tales I have heard about the language of the fan. So, I looked into it, this is what I found...
In the past most woman used their fans not just to cool themselves off but more as an instrument with which to flirt with & send messages! How scandalous!
~ If a woman rested her fan upon her lips she meant to say: I don't trust you

~If she fanned herself slowly she implied she wasn't interested

~However, if she fanned herself quickly she meant to imply: I love you feverishly!

~If she ran her hand through the ribs of the fan she wanted to tell you something

~If she carried her fan closed on her left arm she was saying she was taken or engaged

~Hanging from the right & closed meant she wanted to be engaged!

~Quickly closing the fan meant: I’m jealous

~Dropping the fan: I belong to you

~Moving her hair away from her forehead was a way of saying don’t forget me

~Passing the fan from hand to hand: "I see that you are looking at another woman"

~Hitting her hand’s palm was to tell her object of affection: Love me

~Resting the fan on her heart was code for: My love for you is breaking my heart

~Half-opening the fan over her face meant: We are being watched over

~Hitting any object meant: I’m impatient

Oh bother! No wonder we don't use those codes anymore! It's hard enough to get a man to understand what your saying without all of those codes! I can tell my husband to take out the garbage in four languages, put a large sign on it, & announce it from the mountaintops but he still can't manage to take it out! Could you imagine trying to catch a proposal out of a man with this method! So entertaining! I'm going to do some more research. Enjoy!

All images from the met

For all of you out there who love the costume of the 18th century I came upon this site & I loved the images, just beautiful, Chenilles at Papillons

Bisou Mon Amis!
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  1. Had I known you were doing a post about fans... I would've finished up my Marie Antoinette painting and linked it here... hmmmm... well I still can link it... it's from a scene in the movie! You will love it! I will let you know when it is complete!
    GREAT POST!!!!!

  2. Simply wonderful! I love fans, I have a couple of el cheapos but nothing as splendid as your purchase. I had no idea they had so much conversational meaning! How fabulous!

    Anna :)

  3. Great 'fan speak' - I rather like the idea of a subtle code to instigate a flirtation. Sometimes romance is all about the art of suggestion- maybe thats what fanning was all about.

    I love your fascination with history and I have learnt lots today - thank you.
    I shall do a lot of palm hitting ce soir!!

  4. Judith,
    Another great post! Yes, the "art" of fanning is an amazing thing. Thanks for stopping by ARWS and leaving such a sweet comment. Thank you for adding me to your blogroll!
    BTW ~ Are you in the OC?
    Here is the link to the red booties that you must buy {sexy thing!}

  5. I exited you found the beautiful painting by the swedish artisan Alexander Roslin of his french wife Marie- Suzanne.
    The Painting is called The lady with the veil, the original can be found at the National museum in Stockholm - is one of my favourites and used as my screensaver.

    Beautiful blog of yours,

  6. Intricate =D I'm sure I would forget what meant what and wave my fan around wildly every time I had a new one, thus ending up getting married to an eighty-year old man without any money... Anyway, the fans are lovely and so is your blog (which I found via the paris apartment).

  7. Those fans are beautiful. And thank goodness we don't have to do stuff like that now. I'm sure I would have sent the wrong message daily and either ticked someone off or had an unwanted admirer!

  8. Sorry for spamming... I just needed to say thank you for your incredibly nice answer to my last comment! It truly made my day. I forgot to write on my profile page that I dance Argentine tango also - do you as well?

  9. How FUN... we are linked! Glad you liked the painting! More M.A. to come!

  10. Gorgeous sooo inspiring!

  11. Great Post! I've had it in the back of my mind for a while to figure out fan codes and lo and behold, you've done it for me, thanks!

  12. It is an absolutely lovely idea to think people once used their fans in this way. HOWEVER. Very unfortunately for the romantics amongst us, it turns out the "language of the fan" encoded in these gestures is a fiction, invented by a late Victorian fanmaker in order to sell more fans. I only discovered this when I started researching to present a workshop on the topic at the Australian Jane Austen Festival this year. It's a very interesting topic to research though, and a lot deeper than I'd expected.
    I'm still going to teach the language though - it may not be accurate, but is fun!

    And those pictures are LOVELY.


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