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Arts
Chinese Fans Art 3

The 18th and 19th centuries in China also saw the production of fans solely for the export market. Beautiful in their own right many people do not realise that these fans were made by the Chinese to cater for "barbarian" tastes and were not used by the Chinese themselves. A perfect example of this sort of art would be the "thousand face" or "mandarin" fan that still often comes up for sale in western markets. Also for export the Chinese excelled in exquisite ivory, Sandalwood, mother of pearl and tortishell carved brise fans. The early ones often have the delicacy of lace and have the initials of the buyer carved into the "leaf". In 1906 The Ch"ing dynasty ended in the blood, chaos and looting of the boxer rebellion. A republic was decalared, but by this time "The old China trade", of which fans had been one of it"s specialties, had been consigned to the history books. The years between the end of the last dynasty and the founding of the modern Peoples Republic of China were ones of chaos and rebellion in China and they left their mark on the arts.

         In the 20th century the cultural revolution in China probably had the most impact on fan production. It swept away the literati traditions of previous centuries as bourgeois and destroyed much of China"s rich cultural history. In the 20th century there have been artists who have revived previous traditions, but they are few and far between. Many ancient forms of fans are still produced, but mostly on a commercialised, factory made basis. The most common modern fans coming out of China are printed fans. In the 1950-70"s these tended to have "great-march-forward" themes. They are often found with "traditional" Chinese landscapes with red flags and trucks prominently featured in the landscape. Another common type is the modern pien-mein. This is usually in the form of sheer silk stretched over a frame with a simple picture painted on the silk. These do not have any of the artistic value of past centuries and are often easily broken. The last common form of export fan is cockade fan that once again has a printed "traditional" leaf that closes up to a black metal guard stick/handle. This means that while china still produces fans in a large number they are only a shadow of a rich and long history.

 Tradition has it, folded fans were introduced to China from Japan and Korea about 1,000 years ago. They were usually made with fine paper mounted on bamboo. The scholars found it interesting to paint their poetic and artistic expressions on the surface.

        A great variety of fans have been produced in China; sandalwood, ivory, even gold, silver and jade have been used as material.       

Of particular interest is the sandalwood fan. Its most outstanding characteristic is the pleasant, fragrant scent that comes from the wood. Even in modern air-conditioned environment, it will certainly enhance the elegance and femininity of the lady holding it gracefully in her hand. It emits subtle fragrance which is as enchanting and refreshing as any expensive perfume. Palm fans were made in the Jin Dynasty (265-420 AD) and have been widely used by the Chinese people. They are very useful and welcomed by people of less expensive taste.

 
   
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