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Saturday, 17 January 2015


The first fan was probably a huge palm leaf, or some other naturally grown device (such as a bird's feathers), swayed by slaves.

Ancient Egyptian hosts employed special servants to stand behind their guests and fan them with big fans of papyrus.

The punkah fan was used in India in the early 500 BC. It was a handheld fan made from bamboo strips or other plant fibre, that could be rotated or fanned

Archaeological ruins and ancient texts show that the hand fan was used in ancient Greece at least since the 4th century BC and was known under the name rhipis.

The word ‘fan’ comes from the Latin vannus which was a fan-shaped implement used to winnow grain.

Christian Europe's earliest fan was the flabellum (or ceremonial fan), which dates to the 6th century. This was used during services to drive insects away from the consecrated bread and wine. Its use died out in western Europe, but continues in the Eastern Orthodox and Ethiopian Churches.

The oldest existing Chinese fans are a pair of woven bamboo side-mounted fans from the Second Century AD.

The folding fan was invented in Japan,around the eighth century AD . It was a court fan called the Akomeogi, after the court women's dress named Akome.

According to the Song Sui (History of Song), a Japanese monk Chonen (938-1016) offered the folding fans and two paper fans to the emperor of China in 988.

Portuguese traders brought fans back from China and Japan in the 16th century. They became popular in Europe and were even considered elaborate high status gifts to royalty.

The fan became especially popular in Spain, where flamenco dancers used the fan and extended its use to the nobility.

New Orleans resident Schuyler Skaats Wheeler invented in 1882 a fan powered by electricity by placing a two-bladed propeller on the shaft of an electric motor. It was commercially marketed by the American firm Crocker & Curtis electric motor company.

Crocker-Wheeler electric fan, 1892

French/American Catholic writer and Trappist monk Thomas Merton died aged 53 on December 10, 1968 after being accidentally electrocuted by an electric fan.

"Fan Death" is a widely-held belief in South Korea that leaving an electric fan on overnight will kill a person. Even The Korea Consumer Protection Board issued a warning that "asphyxiation from electric fans and air conditioners" was among the country's five most common summer accidents or injuries.

Fans are traditional New Years gifts in Japan. The shape is regarded as an emblem of life.

Sources Europress Family Encyclopedia 1999, Wikipedia

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