Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Secret Language of the Fan

(Above: What is she trying to say?)

It's hard to imagine, but it wasn't long ago that females were expected to appear prim and proper at all times. Well into the 20th century, a woman could not easily speak her mind (or flirt with a suitor) without breaking one of society's rigid rules. So, over time, a secret language may have developed--one that didn't involve moving one's lips. Though some historians doubt it ever existed, others insist that the language was passed from woman to woman for centuries until it died out completely some time in the last hundred years.

Called the "Language of the Fan," it involved a series of gestures made using a hand fan. Each gesture contained a powerful hidden meaning. For instance . . .

If a woman covered her left ear with an open fan, it meant, "Do not betray our secret."

If she touched one finger to the tip of a fan, she was saying, "I wish to speak with you."

If she raised the fan in front of her face using her right hand, she meant, "Follow me."

A fan placed over her heart said, "You have won my love."

A half-open fan over her face (or twirling a fan in her right hand) meant, "We are being watched."

Drawing a fan through her left hand meant, "I detest you."

Many of the gestures and meanings have been lost over the years, but a few devoted fan-lovers are trying to keep the Language of the Fan alive. You can read more here and here. You can also see the gestures in action here.

Whatever the historians say, I'd like to believe that women once had their own secret language.


Blogger Kitty said...

That is soo cool! :3

6:13 PM  
Blogger Poison said...

Wow, it's a shame fans aren't used as often as they once would have been awesome to be able to use that language and have others immediatly understand you.

8:35 PM  
Anonymous Elizabeth said...

Aha, that's why my sister likes fans so much! She must know the secret language! (Just kidding but hey, who knows? :)

9:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That sounds so cool.i want to try that too! i'll need a fan though...

10:33 PM  
Blogger FN da World Dictator said...

COOL!!!! *^_^*

12:15 AM  
Blogger ookamishinzui said...

That's so cool! I wanna get a fan now (a pretty one *^_^*)

12:22 AM  
Anonymous Raph said...

I have a weird affinity for fans. -.- But the story is awesome! It's way better than Pig Latin. xD

12:34 AM  
Anonymous Nellie said...

"I detest you", that's funny. I have a Chinese fan, but the silk ripped. I keep forgetting to get it fixed:(

4:30 AM  
Blogger International Mastermind said...

What if you accidentally flick open your fan with your left hand? Will you be banished from the fan-bearing society?

6:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want to learn that! that would be so cool!

12:07 PM  
Anonymous invisible turtle said...

...What if there are other secret languages? Like with umbrellas or something? That'd be scary, 'cuz then you wouldn't know if you were saying something bad...

Imagine it: a bunch of fan- and umbrella-toting gangs roaming the streets... infiltrating government... I have to go lock my windows now!

12:37 PM  
Anonymous invisible turtle said...

Questions for Kiki:
Why do you always wear black?
If I randomly ran up and hugged you, approximately how long would I be in the hospital?
Would you send me flowers while I was in the hospital?
What kind of flowers would they be?
What's your birthday?
What does that mean your astrology sign is?
What year were you born in (year of the dog, dragon...)?
Are you a cat person or a dog person? Or a squirrel person?

1:14 PM  
Anonymous Catgirl said...


2:55 PM  
Blogger Kitty said...

*touching the tip of the fan..* (a.k.a. "I wish to speak to you") Lol,I'm praticing it now. I can yell at people without them understanding! (just like Latin, Chinese, or Japanese!) *drops the fan* ("we will be friends") Random fan is scented! XD

5:54 PM  
Blogger Spring said...

Cool! I totally need to get a fan!

6:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aww, I wish that people still used fans. That would be awesome. I could talk to people without them understaning. I'm practicing Morse code now. I'm not good at it-but if you know it my name is:
-.. .-. .. -.. --. . -

8:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! This would be the perfect thing to put in a novel! Maybe I'll even teach my sister some key phrases so we can communicate without anyone knowing.

10:16 AM  

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