The Secret Language of Hand Fans

Did you know that depending on how you hold the hand fan or its opening, it means one thing or the other? The language of the hand fan is very subtle and was used in Spain to communicate, especially with men. Although in the beginning men also carried a kind of smaller fan, as time went by it was used exclusively by women. Gestures and movements that showed from unconditional love to the most angry jealousy. A game of glances with the complementary fan could be very suggestive. The language of the hand fan has survived to the present day.

Widely used between the 18th and 19th centuries, this series of gestures was used to communicate with suitors or friends. Painters such as Goya, Velázquez, Sorolla or Zuloaga, among many others, have captured in their paintings the connection between a woman and her hand fan. Nowadays, most of the artisans dedicated to the elaboration of fans are located in Aldaya, Valencia. Some of these workshops are over 300 years old. Far from what it might seem, the making of a fan requires time and there are many people involved in the manufacturing process: calador, painter, polisher, fondista… Of many colors and styles, the fans are a must for the summer and for the flamenco world. Expressing your feelings through a fan is an art. Do you dare to learn the language of the hand fan?

hand fan

The language of the hand fan

  • Keep a secret. If you cover your left ear with the open fan you are asking not to reveal a secret.
  • Single. You can hint at it if you slowly fan yourself on your chest.
  • Love passionately. If you place the hand fan near your heart, you are showing your love to another person.
  • Engaged. This is demonstrated by fanning quickly, if you fan slowly you are married.
  • Denial. If you want to show denial, you should place the fan on the left cheek.
  • Affirmation. If on the contrary you want to say yes, you will keep it resting on the right cheek.
  • Do you love me? You can ask discreetly if you give him the closed fan.
  • I love you. Hide your eyes behind the open fan or move it around the cheek. It also means “they are watching us” if you look over it.
  • Regret. If you pass the fan over your eyes it means “sorry” or “pardon”.
  • Kiss me. Keep the fan half open on your lips and you will be asking for a kiss.
  • Hate. This is demonstrated if you move the fan from one hand to another.
  • Friendship. You can prove your friendship to the other person by lowering the fan.
  • Goodbye. If you keep the fan behind the head while extending your finger, you will want to say goodbye or end a relationship.
  • Yes, I do. If the answer is yes to a marriage proposal, you will move the hand fan slowly.

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