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The language of the fan

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The fan, aside from becoming an indispensable part of the clothing of an era, constituted an ideal instrument of communication in a time where liberty of expresion for women was totally coerced. When the late XIX early XX century ladies went to the balls they were always accompanied by their mother or a maid, so they could look after the young woman's behavior. The maids were really strict with the tasks entrusted to them, so the ladies had to create a new way o communicating with their lovers and try to be unnoticed. That is why there were different fan languages, but all of them had a common rule, the placement of the object in the four directions with five different positions in each one. And with that system, they did represent each letter of the alphabet.

Apart from that general rule, there were certain gestures with several meanings, like:


Move it with the left hand: they are watching us.

Half close it with the right hand and over the left: I can't

Hit it closed over the left hand: write me.

Let it slide over the forehead: you've changed

Mantain it in the left ear: I want you to leave me alone.

Open it with the left hand: come and talk to me.

Touch the border with the finger: I want to talk with you.

Hold it up with the left hand in front of the face: I am looking for knowledge.

Change it to the right hand: you are bold

Live it hanging: we will keep being friends

Let it slide over the eyes: leave, please.

Hold it with the right hand in front of the face: follow me.

Dump it with the hand: I hate you.

Open and close it: you are cruel.

Let it slide over the cheek: I love you.

Present it closed: ¿do you love me?


Move it with the right hand: I love somebody else.

To fan slowly: I am married.

To fan fast: I am engaged.

To put the fan in the lips: kiss me.


Open it slowly: wait for me

Open and covering the mouth: I am alone.

To put it over the right cheek: yes

To put it over the left cheek:



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