In Vietnamese tradition, the paper fan was an indispensable item in times of yore, one of eight prized objects in every household – the others being a gourd bowl, a quill pen, a Ty Ba (four-string guitar), an orchid, a chess-set, a sword and a feather-duster. Nowadays, the traditional paper fan is still a popular and familiar item in Vietnamese daily life.
Fans are of course common throughout the East. But what makes Vietnam’s decorative fans of the hand-held variety different from those made in China or Japan is the angle: in the latter countries, fans typically open to more than 180 degrees, whereas Vietnam’s are less than 180. If you look into Vietnamese fans, you can imagine it like a sun shining.
Part of what makes these fans art pieces are the paintings and drawings on the surface, which typically include the traditional Han Nom characters, the country’s original script, for Heaven, Land and People, which, combined, are said to symbolize prosperity.