dan-sun (Flat Fan)

About this object

History of use

Such fans were made by masters organized into guilds. They were used by people of any class, and of any age. Boys and girls, men and women all used them, although they were used more by women than men. Special small ones were made for children. Members of the official “Yangban” class also used folding fans, as did some women. Such fans are still made and used at present.

Iconographic meaning

The three swirls represent the “Tae-guk” symbol on the Korean flag, which stands for harmony. The rounded shape of the handle where the fan is inserted represents a peach, symbol of long life.

Specific techniques

Flat fans were made with the following steps. Bamboo was split very thin to form the ribs and then spread evenly on a piece of Korean hand-made paper. Another piece of paper was put over the ribs, adhered with thin rice flour paste. Pieces of coloured paper were then adhered on the surfaces to form the designs. When the paste had dried, the edge of the fan was cut to create its shape. Additional paper was added around the handle. The surface was then oiled with an oil like sesame seed oil, or lacquered. A paper edging was applied. Then the fan was inserted into the handle and riveted in place.

Physical description

A flat fan made of finely-split bamboo flaring out from its attachment point to a long wood handle painted black. Perimeter of fan is circular except for the lower edge where the handle is attached which is straight and at right angles to the handle. Fan is covered with lacquered paper that has a design of three swirls converging at the centre coloured red-orange, black, and yellow. It has a narrow edging of black paper. The fan is inserted into a split in the handle which is flat and shaped like a pointed oval where it covers the fan, which is attached with two rivets. The shape of the handle is repeated with an outline of orange paint on the fan.