The origin of Spanish fans can be traced all the way back to Egyptian times where paintings depict fans made of feathers. The Japanese were the first to make the fans foldable, inspired by a bat’s wing. Hand fans were brought into Europe in the 16th Century by the Portuguese. Because it was an expensive object, the use of hand fans was primarily for upper class ladies. In time, the use of fans spread and everyone began using them. The shape, colour, material and size determined the ladies’ status and class.
Over time, the use of hand fans spread, and dancers began using them in their performances. Spanish hand fans were also believed to have a ” Secret Language” to convey messages. Young ladies would attend events with a female chaperone to watch over them. The girls found a way to interact with admirers using their hand fans. Using different fan gestures, they would avoid the attention of their chaperone.
In Spain, fans are still used and play an essential role in the culture and dance, as well as as relief from the summer heat. Spain is presently one of the few European countries that still manufactures Spanish hand fans.