Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Unfolding Pictures: A Chinese Feather Fan, 1911-1930

Feather Fan
China, 1911-1930
The Victoria & Albert Museum

The Chinese have been producing fans from feathers for over 2000 years. These fans, with their dramatic tufts of colorful feathers, most often featured long handles made of bamboo or wood though specialty examples were made for high-ranking people with handles of ivory, jade or other carved hard-stone.

This example was actually made in modern times during a time when feathers were en vogue with contemporary fashions. Made between 1911 and 1930, this fan nods at Chinese antiquity with its brightly-colored fathers and gleaming handle made of carved hard-stone and glass adorned with a geometric pattern based on ancient Chinese bronzes 
(Ancient Chinese Bronzes, huh?). Two small red stones, possibly garnets, have been mounted on either side of the handle.

The fan was likely made in China for export to the U.K. where the Art Deco fashions dictated a renewed interest in the geometry of the Eastern arts. The color palette indicates that the fan would not have been intended for use by a Chinese woman, but rather a wealthy European lady whose tastes tended toward the trendy gold and brown colors which often dominated accessories of the era.

Donated by Lady Logan from the collection of her parents, Robert and Alexandra Everts, the fan is an excellent example of the kinds of Asian accessories which were in demand in the 1920s.

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