Welcome to my blog, where I take pleasure in words and pictures, be they my own or those of others. I'm a creative individual, and the crafty side I explore on my 'other blog', Picking Up The Threads, which I hope you'll visit too. I'm sure you understand that I have sole copyright of my original work and any of my contributions, so please ask if you want to use them. A polite request is rarely refused. So, as they used to say on the BBC's 'Listen With Mother' radio programme, many years ago: "Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin."

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Faces and Fans

"Zounds and I were now by this rascal I could brain him with his lady’s fan.”
Hotspur; Henry IV Part 1; Shakespeare

Our Sepia Saturday picture prompt this week is two Spanish ladies wearing mantillas and peinatas (combs) and partially hiding their faces with fans. The lady above has the comb and mantilla but sadly no fan; she was taken during our trip to Jerez earlier this year (The same day as our visit to see the drunken mouse in When the Cat’s Away. This was a hand-coloured postcard, displayed in one of the cabinets in a very small Museum of Flamenco, and the subject certainly has an interesting face. I’m saving the dance and music pictures for another time, but you may be surprised to hear that there was only one tiny picture where a fan was in evidence.

The year before our Jerez trip we had been to Madrid for my birthday. This colourful shop window display of fans and mantillas caught my eye but I wasn’t tempted to buy one.

"Oh most dainty man, to see him walk before a lady and bear her fan.” Costard; Loves’s Labours Lost; Shakespeare

One of the main reasons for our Madrid trip was to visit the Prado Museum where many of the world’s most famous paintings are housed. It was there that I discovered a delightful painting, which has now become one of my favourites.

Marina Fortuny: The Artist’s Children in the Japanese Room 1874

In the gift shop I bought a fan decorated with a section of this painting, for my friend’s birthday.

"To have my love to bed and to arise;
And pluck the wings from painted butterflies,
To fan the moonbeams from his sleeping eyes."
Titania; A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Shakespeare

Last year my daughter visited the Fan Museum in Greenwich and sent me these shots. The exhibition was called ‘Curiosities and Quirky Fans’ and you can see a shadowy reflection of my daughter’s face as she snaps the poster.

The display case shows just a few examples of the almost 4,000 exhibits. The museum sounded a fascinating place and you’ll get more of an idea of the setting and what’s on offer there by clicking the link above. The current exhibition is ‘Seduced! - Fans and the Art of Advertising’.

More than twenty-five years ago my daughter posed as Flamenco dancer herself, complete with comb and castanets, though no fan.....

......but she made up for it a few years later when she posed behind this giant oriental fan for a friend, who was an amateur photographer.

John Winstanley 1742

The poem above refers in part to the coded messages ladies could give, depending on the position of their fans. At the moment it’s very hot here in Lanzarote and we have fans running at night and sometimes during the day. I do carry a hand fan at all times, in common with many of the Spanish ladies here; I hope I’m not inadvertently sending a coded message when I simply want to cool down!

Join other fans of faces, combs, Mantillas or hidden meanings, over at Sepia Saturday.


  1. I have a fan that my aunt bought me as a souvenir of her trip to Spain. I should look again to see what lovely scene is on it.

    I wonder what kind of "quirky" fans were at the museum. I see the one with a gun - yeah, that's pretty quirky. I can't imagine what else there might be.

  2. The fan museum looks like an interesting place to visit.

  3. My sister and I used to have cheap paper fans when we were growing up. I cannot remember where we got them. Not just one but a succession of them. The state fair comes to mind. I'll have to ask her.

  4. A great set of family stories, illustrations and quotes.

  5. Your fan quotes are fun, & your pictures very interesting. A double "like/like"!! We, too, during the hot summer months, run (ceiling) fans all day & some into the night. We have fans in every room of the house. They really help. We usually don't have to turn our AC on until late in the afternoon. And I carry a collapsible fan in my purse all the time. Fortunately, I don't think anyone these days knows or remembers what the secret language of the fan is, thank goodness! At least I hope not. :))

  6. I have never been to the fan museum in Greenwich and this is really an omission on my part. I will carefully avoid making any jokes about being a fan of small museums. Looking at the photo I saw that, as is so often the case, the young lady is shown as having very small and distinct teeth. I suppose it must have been a sign of beauty in those days, probably kept a few specialist photo printers in business, artistically putting in those teeth. I wonder how they did it?

  7. I can understand a woman's practical necessity for a fan in the olden times of heavy clothing and buildings without air conditioning. But why did men not have a masculine version? Some clever airfoil that could slip into a vest pocket would have been very handy.

  8. Goodness. You have so many fan photos! I don't have any.

  9. The Fan Museum is fascinating. Some of them are quite ingenious. Can you imagine a lady walking around with the one that is like a pistol?

  10. I think that I would have found it difficult to walk past without buying a fan!

  11. I feel quite underpriveledged, having no intimate relationship with a fan as other people do. A beautiful post.

  12. Does anyone actually use fans these days for the purpose for which they were intended? I have seen shop windows full of them and Isobel has bought many a fan over the years but I can't recall when I actually saw one in use. Still, not much call for them in Yorkshire.

    1. I see them in use at the dances we go to.

  13. So you're a fan of fans. Only in England there can be a museum solely dedicated to fans :-).

  14. I've always wished I had collected fans and your post made me wish it even more. I always worried that they'd be so delicate that what I'd collect would fall apart. I decided it would end up being too stressful to collect such delicate items. But oh how beautiful they are.

  15. Hello,

    How intriguing that fans have played quite a part in your life and the life of your daughter to date. She looks particularly attractive with the large oriental fan, definitely model quality!

    Fans do seem to have lost their appeal generally but we do use one in the Opera House here in Budapest as a full house with inadequate air conditioning can be a trial. Some movement of the air is badly needed and a fan fits the bill perfectly!

    An aged parent of ours had a fan collection. But where is it now we ask ourselves?