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The fan was an essential accessory for women who wanted to be considered elegant in the 18th century. They were used for every occasion, more commonly in the ballroom. Since these rooms were often filled with people joining in conversation and dance, women used fans more then just a means of cooling off - they were used as a form of expression. The idea of the "language of fans" was a way women could send messages across the room without saying a word. This of course would work only if the fan was held the right way. Some examples of communication are as follows:
1. Fanning yourself slowly - married
2. Fanning yourself quickly - engaged
3. Fan presented shut - do you love me?
4. Fan handle to lip - kiss me
5. Drawing fan across cheek - I love you
*The picture added shows more signals
By participating in the "language of fans" in the proper way, even the most plainest women could be considered beautiful and elegant. How a woman fluttered her fan was also very important to understanding a woman's emotion. There is an angry flutter, hesitant flutter, modest flutter, confused flutter, cheerful flutter and the amorous flutter.
This masterpiece of an exercise was a powerful way of women expressing themselves in a graceful, and artistic manner. It is an art mastered by learning and developing excellent technique.