Spanish Fan

In 1840 Th?ophile Gautier, travelling through Spain, was amazed to see young women, although without shoes, using fans. For Spanish women everywhere and for every occasion, the fan was, and still is, an indispensable object.

They were first mentioned in the Codex de Azagra written by the Archbishop of C?rdoba, el Cyprien. The story as told concerns Guiford who had given his wife Guisinda a fan for "refreshing" herself and for use in church during important ceremonies.

The following events show us the importance of the fan over the ages. In 1429 the painter, Bartolom? Abella, died and in his inventory there was mentioned “dos ventalls de palme garnits de alude” - two fans made of strong wood.

Hern?n Cort?s brought feather fans from Mexico as a gift from the Emperor Montezuma. These he gave to the Catholic sovereigns. Lope de Vega in 1632 in his Dorotea also wrote about fans.

We have learned to recognise Rubens’ lnfanta Do?a Isabel not only for her beauty but also because of the open folding fan.

Vel?zquez painted La Se?ora del Abanico - The Lady of the Fan. To illustrate the importance of the fan, it is well known that Queen Mariana of Austria named Francisco Pa?ba, the first fan maker and taquero - manufacturer of talcum powder - “Earl of Altamira.”

During Isabel Farnese’s reign from 1692 to 1766 (Isabel of Parma), the fan as an object reached its peak.

The subjects of Spanish fans were varied, mostly romantic, historical, anecdotal and less religious and mythological than those of other European countries. Favourite topics concerned “Don Quijote,” “La Feria de Sevilla,” the corrida (bullfight), the liberation of Granada in Rendici?n de Granada, Juana la Loca (Joanna the Mad), portraits of royalty and weddings, wars against Napoleon and the Constitution of 1812.

As one can see from this brief account, fans in Spain were a vital part of its social life. Military, political and social changes came and went, but the fan survived them all and still today remains a living part of Spanish life.

Types of Spanish Fans

Abanico Fan (from vannus), to activate the fire

Aijofar Work Trimmed with pearls or strings

Chumbo Cheap fans

Gremio Guild

Guadamecies Leather embossed and gilded

Gufas Guards

“Isabellina” At the beginning of Isabel II’s reign in 1833, fans were flat with Islamic influences, heavily carved and gilded

Mamarrachos Painting badly finished

Pal Pay Palm-leaf fan

Peric?n Large fan