Flat Fan Item Number: N3.49 from the MOA: University of British Columbia
Flat fan made of finely-split bamboo flaring out from its attachment point to a long wooden handle painted black. Perimeter of fan is circular except for the lower edge where the handle is attached, which is straight and at right angles to handle. Fan is covered with lacquered paper on both sides, patterned with a design of four triangles radiating from centre. The top triangle is black, the one where the handle attaches is smaller and yellow, and the two at the sides are red. The area where the triangles meet is covered with two swirls, one green and yellow. The area surrounding the handle on both sides is covered with a black paper cut, and the area immediately surrounding the handle is painted orange. The fan has a narrow edging of black paper. It is inserted into a split in the handle, which is shaped like a pointed oval where it covers the fan, which is attached with two rivets.
Iconographic Meaning: The three swirls represent the “Tae-guk” symbol on the Korean flag, which stands for harmony. The rounded shape of the handle where the fan is inserted represents a peach, symbol of long life.
Such fans were made by masters organized into guilds. They were used by people of any class, and of any age. Boys and girls, men and women all used them, although they were used more by women than men. Special small ones were made for children. Members of the official “Yangban” class also used folding fans, as did some women.
Such fans are still made and used at present.
Flat fans were made with the following steps. Bamboo was split very thin to form the ribs and then spread evenly on a piece of Korean hand-made paper. Another piece of paper was put over the ribs, adhered with thin rice flour paste. Pieces of coloured paper were then adhered on the surfaces to form the designs. When the paste had dried, the edge of the fan was cut to create its shape. Additional paper was added around the handle. The surface was then oiled with an oil such as sesame seed oil, or lacquered. A paper edging was applied. Then the fan was inserted into the handle and riveted in place.