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By: Anna Checcoli Two fans which are exposed at The Cairo's Mu- The most ancient is in the St. John's Basilica
seum, originally with forty-two alternated white treasure of Monza: it's a cockade fan, with
The fan is very ancient: its use began in the and brown ostrich feathers, belonged to Tut- case, of about 600 A.D., probably belonged to
night of all times, when people, to move air and ankhamon: their handles are of ivory, gold and the Queen Theodolinda.
send away the bugs, unconsciously shook the precious stones.
hand. The second, (875 A.D. ca.), coming from the
Some archaeological testimonies, such as Gre- Tournus Abbey,is at Florentine Bargello Muse-
The evolution of this precious object was deter- cian and Roman vases and statues, document um. Also this exemplar is a cockade fan (round
mined by commercial and cultural exchanges the use of leaf shaped screens, which could be at 360°), of hand-painted vellum with saints and
between Orient and Occident. The finding of realized with vegetables or feathers. vegetable decorations and it has an ivory and
many Egyptian finds documents the daily use of bone case-handle, wonderfully carved. The last
the fan since 3200 b.C.: it was rigid, not folding; From Etruscan period we have the bronze fla- one is in Puglia and dates from XIII century.
those with long handle belonged to important bella of Populonia with relief decorations, dat-
dignitaries and were used to refresh or protect ing from the second half of the VII century b.C., In the XIII century a new shape for fans ap-
the Pharaon from the insects; they were also considered a masculine and a female status peared, called “flag fan”. Diffused in Europe till
used by the priests to purify the divine statues. symbol. the appearance of the folding fans in 1500, it's
still in use near some peoples. Before the half
The flabellum use was adopted also by the of 1500 the screens were used to give relief
Christian Church for its liturgy. to the sufferings in the hospitals, to the giving-
births, or in the inns and at the barber's shop:
Big flabella were used till the pontificate of the hygienic rules were not respected, so the
Giovanni XXIII ( 1963 ). annoying bugs proliferate.
Italy has three very precious flabella which
demonstrate their use till the late Middle Age.
Continued on pg. 20
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January 2010 - 11
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