An air conditioner is a vital installation in most Singaporean homes nowadays; however one must not forget the times when we heavily depended on the electric fans to keep us cool in our sweltering weather. If not for the heat, we needed a fan to at aleast stir the air to keep the humidity at bay! So, how did our ancestors keep cool in countries such as ours before the discovery of electricity and electric fans? Why, with the hand fan of course!
Talk of hand fans will usually trigger memories of geishas gently fanning themselves and batting their eyes; but hand fans can actually be found all over the world. This includes India, which has a rich hand fan making tradition.
India boasts a wide variety of hand fans, as the techniques and materials used to make these fans differ from state to state. Hence, you will be able to find a myriad of hand fans in India, ranging from the humble palm leaf woven fans to more elaborate, gold threaded ones. An artist by the name of Jatin Das found these fans so fascinating that he has collected over 2000 hand fans from all over India and the world. He has founded a museum- JD Centre of Art in which his collection of hand fans is featured. He gave an interview to The Wall Street Journal some time back, in which he has shared some interesting information about hand fans, such as how some fans are considered to be romantic, as they are made of fragrant roots! Do read this article to find out more about one of the most underappreciated handicrafts in India, as well as the man who collects them!
Mr Jatin Das also has an informative website, where you will be able to see some of the hand fans form his collection.