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Origin

Fan, Japanese

19th century depiction of a Japanese folding fan with a poem on its open surface.

A hand-held fan is an implement used to induce an airflow for the purpose of cooling or refreshing oneself. Any broad, flat surface waved back-and-forth will create a small airflow and therefore can be considered a rudimentary fan. But generally, purpose-made hand-held fans are shaped like a sector of a circle and made of a thin material (such as paper or feathers) mounted on slats which revolve around a pivot so that it can be closed when not in use.

Owner

Shizuka Gozen (1165–1211), or Lady Shizuka, one of the most famous women in Japanese history and literature, was a shirabyōshi (court dancer) of the 12th century, and a mistress of Minamoto no Yoshitsune. Since she, like many others, are featured largely in the Heike Monogatari (Tale of Heike), Gikeiki (Chronicle of Yoshitsune), and a number of plays of various traditions, her story is quite well known, but it is difficult to separate fact from fiction within it.

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