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Date Made:1840-1860
Type:Personal Equipment
Materials:goose and peacock feathers, watercolors, gouache, wood: sandalwood; textile: silk; base metal: brass
Place Made:China; Canton
Measurements:overall: 12 x 20 in. (open); 30.48 x 50.8 cm
Accession Number:  HD 1998.22.4
Credit Line:Gift of Marion Waltermire
Museum Collection:  Historic Deerfield

Chinese export brise (French for broken) or folding feather fan made of white goose feathers with peacock "eye" feather tips and carved sandlewood sticks and guards with a simple pierced design. Bird feathers have long been used in the manufacture of fans. The construction of the feather provided a perfect material for fan making; the shaft, strong and rigid, formed an excellent base while the body of the feather created a ready-made leaf. With the growing variety of Chinese trade goods made for the Western market, the feather fan became an increasingly popular and sought after commodity. Although feather fans appear in 18th-century trade documents, their appeal seems to have peaked in the 1820s. This type of fan almost always consisted of goose feathers mounted on a wide variety of sticks: ivory, tortoiseshell, sandalwood, or bone. Some examples are plain, while others have painted feathers with scenes of birds, flowers, and occasionally people. Often the goose feathers were tipped with marabou down to give the fan a charming, soft finish. This example substituted the "eye" of peacock feathers imported from the kingdom of Annam (Vietnam) to achieve the same soft effect. When the fan trade was in decline in the late 19th century, the quality of this form declined, using pierced bone and short feathers of other fowl dyed in bright colors with clumsy paintings and designs. One side has a painted garden scene with two Chinese figures, a man and woman, standing in front of a running fence and tree, flanked on either side by large multi-colored flowers and a butterfly, in red, pink, yellow, green, blue, and purple. The reverse has a large floral spray. See HD V.134 for a later version of this fan type.

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