Step 5 of 5
Fans were a sign of class in Korean society. Farmers used to have fans called budeul, also known as paldeok, meaning ‘eight virtues’: waving wind, removing moisture, sleeping on the floor, being cheap, easy to squeeze, avoiding rain, blocking the sun, and covering up the poison. These fans are nowadays still used by farmers from some regions.
The upper class, the yangban, used to have fans with a diagonal line on them as a symbol of status. During ceremonies, such as weddings and funerals, the yangban would align the fan in front of their face. During the Joseon dynasty, women were forbidden to take fans outside, they were only allowed to use them inside the house. Usually inside the house Banggu-fans (round, unfoldable fans) were used, while foldable fans, such as the main picture of our white fan, were taken outside the house by the men.
It is quite remarkable how much there is to say about our fan. The blank surface remains highly unusual. Could it be that, somehow and somewhere, this fan found its way to us before visiting an artist or calligrapher? Now, hypothetically, if you could, what kind of text and what sort of art decoration would you like to put on this fan?
Oh, before you go, we wrote a bit more about the ways to put fans into action...