Personally, I have always been curious about the historical traditions associated with courtly life, particularly those that are no longer used. Is it because we have less time these days to make the effort or have we just realised the arbitrary nature of such traditions? Even though I am not necessarily one for tradition, I certainly can’t go past the opportunity to dabble in such things when the opportunity presents itself.
For those who are interested Kelly (the intern) diligently took it upon herself to research the fan as a means of non-verbal communication. Here is what she discovered.
Now, if you are conversing in secret, and fear someone may be listening in, draw your fan across your forehead to announce you are being watched. If you wish to reunite with your companion, open your fan wide to ask that they wait for you. If you would like to take them somewhere a bit more private, open your fan with your right hand and hold it at your face, this indicates your desire for rendezvous.
Photo © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Britain, about 1790
Engraved and hand-coloured paper, with carved and pierced ivory sticks and guards
V&A: T.56-1933; given by Dagmar and Gladys Farrant in memory of Arthur and Maud Loscombe Wallis
Miller, Lesley 2011 Princely Treasures: European Masterpieces 1600 - 1800 from the Victoria and Albert Museum. V&A Publishing, Hong Kong.