|Home | Issues | The Daily Star Home | Volume 4, Issue 40, Tuesday October 9, 2007|
Throughout history, fans have been made from a diverse range of materials. Some of the earliest Egyptian and Chinese hand-fans were made of feathers. The peacock feather was popular because of its eye motif, which was seen as a protective symbol.
The first European country to produce fans was Italy in about 1500. This was in Venice and was a result of the city being a major trading centre for the Orient to the rest of Europe. A fan can be functional, ceremonial, a fashion statement or a means for advertising. Until the mid 17th century fans continued to be very much a luxury item, often made from some of the most expensive materials and studded with jewels. By the latter part of the 17th century the range of fans was increasing and France overtook Italy as the main centre for fan production.
From the sixteenth century onwards the fan was used in fashionable society as a means of communication. Both men and women carried hand-fans and understood the different messages. The messages conveyed on the whole were those of love. Placing your fan near your heart said, "I love you". A closed fan resting against the right eye asked, "When I can see you?" And so on, and so forth.
In the East, fans have been in use for a long while. During the Mughal period, the pankhawallahs were a common fixture in the Darbar hall. They used to hold a decorative fan and stand behind the noblemen, fanning away. Even during the British rule, the pankhawallahs used to fan dignitaries and noblemen. The wealthy landlords had a unique system whereby a large fabric fan would hang from their bedroom ceiling, which was moved on pulleys operated by a pankhawallah sitting in an adjacent room. These fans also generated a light cool breeze.
Colorful feathers were used for fans in the third quarter of the 19th century. During the latter part of the 19th century the neutral tones of ostrich feathers mounted on mother of pearl, ivory or tortoiseshell echoed the softer tones of the contemporary dress. 1920s fashions demanded a single ostrich plume dyed to match dress colors.
Leaves of folding fans have been made of fine animal skins (including that of unborn lambs and often referred to as 'chicken skin'), vellum, paper, lace, silk and other textiles. Vellum and 'chicken skin' were used mainly during the 16th and 17th centuries after which paper increased in popularity. These leaves were painted. The first printed fan dates to the 1720s.
This is the age of the electric fan, and today we discuss is fan cleaning and maintenance. Electric fans get a lot of use, whether they're ceiling fans, wall-mounted fans, standing fans or table fans. Dust and dirt accumulate on the fan blades and the cover, so when it's time, clean them up!
The most obvious step before you even begin, make sure you unplug or switch off the fan! For table or standing fans, first carefully remove the protective screen. Take care not to loosen the dirt or there'll be more cleaning up to do. If possible, remove the fan blades. Some electric fans have removable fan blades, which make for easier cleaning. Wash the protective screen in warm, soapy water. To get deep into the small crevices, use a soft brush or cotton swabs to dig into the corners. Leave the screen out in the open to dry them. Do the same for the removable blades.
Find yourself a folding ladder or service ladder for ceiling fan cleaning. Use a damp glove or an old sock to clean the blades so you do not miss a spot.
After the loose clumps of dust are washed off, dip a damp cloth in a solution of vinegar and water, and wipe excess dirt from the fan. This solution helps remove tough stains.
Wipe down the rest of the electric fan, including the exterior casing and the stand. But make sure you're careful not to get any water into the fan's motor.
Assemble the parts after they're sufficiently air-dried. Before you turn on the fan, though leave it out for a few hours, just in case the internal parts are wet.
With the party season coming up, give your fans a good cleaning and add some sparkle to your ceilings.
NAZNEEN HAQUE MIMI
| Issues | The Daily Star Home|
© 2007 The Daily Star