| ||Things Chinese and Their Stories |
The Story of Fans
Hand-held fans are still a necessity during the summer in most parts of China. They fall in two major categories: the folding and the unfolding. They may be made in serveral forms (round, square, oval, hexagonal, sunflower and so on) and of different materials (paper, feather, silk, coarse and very fine bamboo strips, palm leaves, wheat straw, sandalwood and ivory).
Fans are an indispensable part of the traditional stage. Male characters waving their fans in different ways are supposed to reveal different inner feelings in different situations. A young maid in a costume play, meeting her first love, will often use the fan to cover her face and also her bashfulness. It is said that fans began to be used for cooling from the Han Dynasty (founded in 206 B.C.)