Saturday, January 18, 2014

Unfolding Pictures: King George IV’s Ivory Cockade Fan, 1790

Ivory Cockade Fan
China, 1790
The Royal Collection

Cockade fans differ from standard hand fans in that they open to a full 360 degrees. Such fans were first recorded in use during early medieval times though they may have been employed much earlier in their country of origin--China.

This cockade fan is one of a pair, and does, in fact, herald from China where it was made for the Western market. Asian craftsmen were celebrated for their ivory-carving skills, often using intricate patterns and templates to create unbelievably complex scenes. This fan features a scene of musical instruments, feathers and chrysanthemums around a depiction of a tiger hunt, and archers. Because the fan was intended for male use, the grip is broader and thicker.

In addition to the scene described above, the fan, having been made expressly for George IV (while still Prince of Wales) bears the coat of arms and motto of the Prince of Wales in addition to the three feathers of the Prince of Wales and his cipher which are repeated on the carved presentation box. 

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