Chinatown – first of three in series
The fan has a long history in Chinese culture. Since ancient times, along with the changes from one dynasty to another, the function of the fan has also changed. The fan was originally used for blocking the view, the sun or the wind and for keeping cool. Later on, people wrote poems and painted paintings on fans. In addition, they can act as tools during the artistic performance like pingtan (an art of Suzhou City), drama, dance and other folk arts. In the ancient times, dancers liked to hold fans while dancing, and the preference has been handed down until now. The fan dance has become a dancing art with distinctive Chinese characteristics.
The fan, which is made of thin bamboo strips, thin silks, feathers, leaves of sunflowers, and papers, is a traditional Chinese handicraft used for cooling. Fans, for they can bring people cool, were called “Shelter from the Sun” in ancient China, and called “Cool Friends” by the literati. The craftwork fans as commodities, which are made of bamboos, trees, papers, fans, ivories, hawksbills, jades, feathers of fowls, leaves of palms and arecas, stalks of wheat, and stems of cattails, can be produced in a variety of types with graceful shapes and exquisite structures. China is always regarded as the kingdom of fans. Today you have to go to specialized shops to find authentic fans.
Those sold on the street are mostly plastic but still colorful and elaborate.