13 April 2011

Fantastic Fans

Next week, at our second Stories of the World Family Day on Wednesday 20th April, children can join in with our ‘Fantastic Fans!’ activity.

Fan, c.1890-1950 (c) Geffrye Museum, London
‘Fantastic Fans!’ is based on the Japanese fan pictured above, on display in the Geffrye Museum’s 1890 drawing room. The 1890 room is decorated in the style of the Aesthetic Movement, which was strongly influenced by Japanese art and design.

These traditional Japanese round hand fans are known as ‘uchiwa’, and they have a very long history. They came originally from China, and were made from bamboo and ‘washi’ paper. They have had many uses: as far back as the Heian period (794-1185), fans were used as ceremonial items at the Imperial court, later they became common props in performing arts such as Japanese classical dancing, and in the tea ceremony. They were also a necessity amongst ordinary people for keeping cool in the summer, and for stoking cooking fires. They are still in use today, to fan charcoal on barbeques or to cool hot rice when making sushi, and also as cheap, practical promotional items, distributed in cities in the summer.
Tradition in Kyoto holds that uchiwa are properly used not to fan oneself, but to fan others, as a way of expressing respect and appreciation.
In our ‘Fantastic Fans!’ workshop, children can make an ‘uchiwa’ fan of their own design to take home with them. See here for the programme of events.
See the real thing in the 1890 room!
See here for more information from the Geffrye's collections online.

For more on Japanese homes, see the Geffrye Museum’s exhibition 'At Home in Japan - Beyond the Minimal House', running from 22 March to 29 August 2011.

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