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The Language of the Hand Fan

Updated on December 26, 2011

Korean Fan


The Language of the Fan

It seems hand fans have a language all their own. At one time this language was the language of love - and the means of communication with the object of your affection. I've included a list below.

More than just for cooling you!

As far back as I can remember a fan was used for cooling yourself - if you had to sit in a hot room for any length of time - it was quite common to see a woman pull out a simple flat hand fan and start fanning - at which time you would hope to be near her.

When my cousins, Roger and Bryan, visited "Attingham Park" in England, they picked up a brochure to share with me. Among other items of interest in that brochure was the language of the fan.

For me, a pretty fan is no more than pretty decoration on a pretty wall (see photo below of my fan on my colorwashed wall*). I recently visited a friend who wanted to show me something in her bedroom. When she turned on the red (yes, red!) light to show me - what, I don't remember - behind her bed was a wall filled with beautiful fans from all over the world - every kind and every shape - lovely!

The language may be lost but certainly not the beauty of the fans. I must say, I was quite surprised to see the amount of pretty hand fans for sale on the internet as well as the many beautiful books.

Why is this a lost art?

This lost art is forgotten because...some say it is because women carry too much these days to have an extra hand to play with a fan. I think it is mostly due to having A/C everywhere.

When this very pretty Korean hand fan (below) was given to me as a gift I did find it to be quite cooling. Much more so than the flat fans you were once given in a church or funeral home, etc. And, I did not have to turn on the A/C when all I needed was just a bit of cooling.

Well, just in case you decide to turn off your A/C, or get on a hot train or are forced to sit in a hot room, you may decide to open a beautiful fan and start fanning - but just know that you may be sending one of the following messages:

With handle of fan to lips - Kiss me

Twirling it in the left hand - I wish to get rid of you

Drawing it across the right cheek - I love you

Closing it - I wish to speak to you

Fanning slowly - I am married

Letting it rest on right cheek - Yes

Letting it rest on left cheek - No

Open wide - Wait for me

Half opened over face - We are being watched

Fanning fast - I am engaged (one website says fanning fast means 'I love you so much' - perhaps it is the speed, or the body language to go with it)

Resting fan on lips - I don't trust you

Dropping the fan - I belong to you

I was quite surprised to find so much more information about the language of the fan on the internet. It made for fun reading.

*If you'd like to color wash your walls, it can be done beautifully and quite cheaply. See link below!

Korean Fan on Colorwashed Wall

Korean fan on my colorwashed wall
Korean fan on my colorwashed wall


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    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Thanks so much Hand fans. I'm glad you came back again.

    • profile image

      Hand fans 

      6 years ago

      I think this is one of the most significant info for me. And i am glad reading your article. But want to remark on some general things, The web site style is great, the articles is really excellent.

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Thanks so much hand fans - I am loving this blogging!

    • profile image

      hand fans 

      7 years ago

      Really the blogging is spreading its wings quickly. Your write up is a good example of it.


      paper lanterns

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      I've come to love them all over again. And with this heatwave in New York City - my fan is perfect. So refreshing - and keeps my arms strong.

      Thanks for commenting!

    • profile image

      hand fans 

      7 years ago

      Thanks for giving knowledge about verity about fans.I think Hand Fans are perfect gift item for weddings, birthdays and other such events.


      hand fans

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Thanks so much for writing mia. I remember so many fans as a child because they were used to keep us cool - and it does work (and strengthened our arms).

      Fanology it is! Yay!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      i love fans and carry one with me at all times i evan know the language of the fan (also refered to as fanology.)

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      You know I just love the elegance of the whole thing - there is something, well...genteel about it. I must remember the language so I can flirt a bit!

      Oh, thanks for the tip - I'll check out the 99cent store because I want some more.

    • justmesuzanne profile image


      9 years ago from Texas

      I carry a fan in my purse! Sometimes I have to fight the other middle aged women at the 99 cent store to get enough fans to be sure I always have one! They are greatly in demand amonst us! ;)


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