Language of the Fan

Fans are a common used prop in flamenco dancing - adopted from Spaniard lady's common accessory of the time.

Fan Language, much used by fashionable ladies in the 18th century, was of help in carrying out love affairs under the chaperone's watchful eye.

"..the first person to organise 'a language of the fan' was a Spaniard named Fenella, who published (in Spanish) fifty directions on how to converse with the fan"-Nancy Armstrong


With the Fan Closed Using Tip to Touch
Yes - touch to right cheek
No - touch to left cheek
Hush - touch to lips
Kiss me - touch handle to lips
Do not give us away - touch to left ear
I love you - point toward the heart
Go away, you're boring me - yawn behind the fan
I wish to speak with you - touch tip with finger
When may I be allowed to speak to you? - resting on right eye
At what hour? - present number of sticks unfolding fan
Do you misunderstand me? - gaze pensively at fan
Do not be so imprudent - threaten with fan
I'll miss you - wave fan

With the Fan Open
Wait for me - open wide
I love you - hide the eyes behind the fan
I do not love you - give quick brushing away movements, holding the fan pointing downward, the back of the hand on top
You are welcome - hold the fan palm uppermost and extend toward the other person
I must avoid you - hold the fan over the head
I am married - fanning slowly
I am engaged - fanning quickly
Forgive me I pray you - clasp hands under fan
Do not betray our secret - cover left ear with fan
Come and talk to me - carry in left hand
We'll be friends - drop fan
I love another - twirl in right hand
We are watched - twirl in left hand
Follow me - carry in right hand in front of face
I'd like to meet you - carry in left hand in front of face

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