The Language of the Fan: Spanish Hand Fans and The Secret Messages They Convey:
Many social and cultural changes have taken place in Spain over the centuries, but the Spanish hand fan is still an indispensable object for Spanish women. These beautiful hand fans not only provide some refreshing relief in the heat of the Spanish summer, they also feature in dances and are a part of the Spanish traditional costumes.
The Language of the Fan
In the past, when social etiquette restricted women in what they could say, especially to the opposite sex, an unspoken code of messages developed and the fan became an instrument of communication.
On our visit to Seville, our tour guide demonstrates some of the body language that can be communicated through the fan movement such as:
- To hold it on the right cheek: Yes.
- To hold it on the left cheek: No.
- To fan quickly: I am engaged.
- To hold it opened, covering the mouth: I am single.
The language of the fan is not uniquely Spanish. In the 19th century, the French fan makers Duvelleroy published a list of gestures that could be made with the fan, each with its own meaning.
Buying Spanish Fans
Spanish hand fans come in a large number of styles and material, ranging from the printed paper fans and painted wood fans to the more delicate lace fans. There are fans for all kinds of occasions and they range in prices. One of the collector fans can set you back by a couple of hundred dollars. However, if you are looking for souvenir Spanish fans for gifts, you can buy them almost everywhere in Spain for a few Euros.