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 black design represents a bird flying down to a flower, and is a symbol of love. The small size and red colour of this fan suggest that it was used by a young woman.

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 inverted u-shaped fan on a frame of very finely split bamboo radiating out from the centre of the flat edge at the handle. Each bamboo strip is bent back in a wide u-shape. Fan is covered on both sides with paper, and is lacquered red with a black edge, a small black design like an airplane, and a black design like a paper cut around the handle. Painted orange around the handle. Straight wood handle is painted black, split for insertion of the fan, and fastened with two tin rivets.