· At first, the fan was a simple tool for coaxing a fire into life, for keeping away insects and flies, or for cooling the face in hot weather. Beside their primary purpose to keep a woman cool, they also used for flirting. It was not unusual that the matrons were passing on the communication codes to young girls by use of fans and gloves. The language of fans was most fully developed in Spain, where around sixty phrases could be conveyed with a fan.
· Fans were used in ancient Egypt. Some were quite large, as can be seen from ancient frescoes. Fans were used in ancient Greece in the fourth century B.C. and probably before that. In Europe, In the Middle ages fans were used in the Christian liturgy and continued to be used in the Roman Catholic church until Vatican II. There are religious pictures of holy men holding fans. Sometimes religious pictures were painted on the fans, or lists of saints or holy days were written on them. Fans were used by the military to send signals on the battle-field, but were mainly used at court. The Japanese invented the folding fan and it was introduced into China about a thousand years ago. They were made with fine paper and bamboo. Fans were, and still are used, especially in Flamenco dancing. Without the hand-held fans, we would not have the electrical fans later in history. In a way, the hand-held fan was the prelude to the air-conditioning, the modern A/C. In 1947, a British scholar S.F. Markham writes, “The greatest contribution to civilization in this century may well be air-conditioning – and America leads the way.” Yet somehow people still say that air conditioning is the brilliant new idea or “the best thing since sliced bread” to keep the human body at the comfortable temperature at any type of weather. Above all, the fan as a fashion accessory is the true ‘grandfather’ tool of the keeping ladies’ faces cool.