Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Language of the Fan

Did you know that once upon a time it is believed there was a 'language of the fan' and that ladies, particularly in the 18th century, could convey much more than one might realise from across the other side of the room? I find this so fascinating! I have been reading up on it a little as I'm currently involved in a production of Oscar Wilde's Lady Windermere's Fan, playing the title role. Above is the promotional image that my husband took. Anyway, back to the language... Here are some apparent examples I came across:

Touching right cheek - yes
Touching left cheek - no
Twirling in left hand - we are watched
Twirling in right hand - I love another
Fanning slowly - I am married
Fanning quickly - I am engaged
Open & shut - you are cruel
Open wide - wait for me
Presented shut - do you love me?
With handle to lip - Kiss me
In right hand in front of face - Follow me
Drawing across the cheek - I love you
Placing on left ear - I wish to get rid of you
Twirling in right hand - I love another

Photo Credit: Glenn Chiofalo 

I love how dramatic it seems. Can you imagine using this language nowadays?

~ Clare x

"It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious." 
~ Lady Windermere's Fan, Oscar Wilde 


  1. Such a lovely photo, Clare. I'll bet you're fabulous in the part. I had a pretty fan that I used to play with when I was a little girl. I loved it so much. I would have loved it even more if I had known that I could communicate with it.

    1. It's so interesting, isn't it Connie? x

  2. I agree with Connie, lovely photo! Wish I was there to see the production, I find it so interesting the way communications were done back then.
    great post, i learned something new

    1. So glad I could help you learn something new, Callie! x

  3. What a stunning photo of you! In college I took a course on fan flirtations and handkerchief signals–I absolutely adored it, and it brought so much meaning to our scene and opera work!

    1. Wow! Lena, that sounds amazing! I never thought about my handkerchief! x

  4. Love it Clare and Oscar Wilde ... You are oging to be amazing in the play xx


Thanks for sharing on Soulful Mama ~ Clare x