A Roman Hand Fan


I always knew the Roman women used some type of fan on those warm Italian nights and then I found this reference --a Roman period folding fan! This particular one was found in a woman's sarcophagus during the York excavations, but I have since seen others depicted in funeral monuments. This fan is circular (see fig. 1) and does not lock when open, but is held together with the hand. The sticks cross slightly, but this may be a distortion caused by burial and wood shrinkage. The whole implement was about 18 to 20 inches fro. the bottom or the sticks to the top of the fan. The sticks themselves are about 13" long.

To construct this fan you will need two pieces or wood approximately 13" x I" x ". These will form the sticks. You will probably want to carve them for decorative effect. Look closely at the illustration for ideas. You will want to leave the top 6 inches of the sticks wider than the handles so you have something to attach the "fan" to (fig. 2). For the fan you could use a stiff paper, stiffened silk or other material, or vegetable parchment to simulate thin leather. You are going to need a strip of material 6" wide and as long as the circumference of the circle or your fan plus about 6-8" for "dammit factor". Fan-fold the material (if you missed this part of kindergarten, see fig. 3) into small pleats. The pleats should be no wider that the width of the top or the sticks. Now fold the paper tightly together and take a sharp needle or awl and punch a hole through all the folds at one end of the "fan" (fig.4). Glue the edges of the "fan" to the sticks as shown in fig. 5. Drill a hole through each stick to match the hole, in the paper (Fig. 6). Run a metal pin through the holes and peen the pin over on both ends to form a rivet. The sticks and fan will rotate on this pivot to open and close.

We know the Egyptians used large feather fans, and I would be willing to bet the Romans had them too, as well as smaller feather fans that were hand held.


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