Susan F. Craft
Historical Fiction Author
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Although the Fan Association of North America cannot corroborate the Language of the Fan, it's such a lovely idea, I included it in my Civil War Novel, A Perfect Tempest

MerryAnn's fan caught Deborah's attention. She watched with growing irritation as MerryAnn teased Michael with the language of her fan, peeping over its rim, then folding it slowly and touching it to her lips.

The Language of the Fan

Women used fans not only to cool themselves, but to communicate, to flirt, and to transmit more or less furtive love messages.

Press a half-opened fan to the lips- "You may kiss me."
Hide the eyes behind an open fan- "You have won my heart."
Place the fan near the heart- "My love for you is breaking my heart."
Run fingers through the fan's ribs- "I want to talk to you."
Slowly shut a fully opened fan- "I promise to marry you."
Half-open the fan over the face- "We are being watched over."
Fan herself slowly- "I'm married" or "Don't waste your time, I don't care about you."
Quickly and impetuously close the fan- "I'm jealous."
Pass the fan from hand to hand- "I see that you are looking at another woman."
Twirl the fan in the right hand- "I love another." Drop the fan at a man's feet- "I belong to you."

Fan pictures courtesy of the Collection of Gary Myron, member,
Fan Association of North America

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