Language of the Fan Decoded

Once upon a time, women (were they called women back then, or were they ladies?) carried fans, and they used the fans to communicate silently with their lovers. Of course, since everyone knew the language of the fan, the maessage wasn’t exactly a secret. Still, the language has its uses, most particularly for writers of historical romance. So, for your edification, here it is:

With the handle to the lips:  Kiss me

Carrying in the right hand:  Desirous of making acquaintance

Carrying in the right hand in  front of the face:  Follow me

Placing on left ear:  You have changed

Twirling in left hand:  I wish to get rid of you

Drawing across forehead:  We are watched

Carrying in right hand:   You are too willing

Drawing across cheek:  I love you

Drawing through hand:  I hate you

Twirling in right hand:  I love another

Closing the fan:  I wish to speak to you

Drawing across eyes:  I am sorry

Letting it rest on right cheek:  Yes

Letting it rest on left cheek:  No

Open and shut:  You are cruel

Dropping:  We are friends

Fanning slowly:  I am married

Fanning fast:  I am engaged

Open wide:   Wait for me

Could make for an interesting story. A lady is desperately in love with a gent and he with her. However, the ballroom is hot, and she feels faint, so she starts fanning herself. Her swain sees what she is doing and disconsolately leaves, thinking that the lady belongs to another. Because she is hidden behind the fan, she doesn’t see him, and so she never knows what happened to him. Hmmm. Maybe I better stick to thrillers or mysteries or whatever it is that I write.

4 Responses to “Language of the Fan Decoded”

  1. A. F. Stewart Says:

    Nice reference guide for any kind of historical research.

  2. Jaimey Grant Says:

    I am definitely bookmarking this post. As an author of Regency romance, this quick reference will come in handy. Thanks for posting it! 🙂

  3. Sheila Deeth Says:

    That was fascinating! I’ll be checking in the movies now to see if they get it right.

  4. joylene Says:

    I’m sending this to some historical writer friends. Thanks. This was interesting.


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