Dec 30

How can I tell if my folding fan is Japanese or Chinese? Is it authentic?

I recently purchased a folding fan, still in box, from a thrift store. The box itself has a sticker on the front and one on the side, but the characters are of an Oriental language. So, I can’t read them. Once fully opened, the scene on the fan itself is of 2 koi-fish, or carp(I’m not sure which), and there is also what appears to be some kind of trademark stamped on it, with some characters written out next to it. The scene is beautifully done, whether printed on or painted. There are 19 ribs, including the wider ribs on either end, that look to be bamboo, and they are painted or varnished in a lovely dark color. I can’t tell whether or not this is an authentic hand-crafted piece, or if it is just your run-of-the-mill mass-produced tourist souvenier. I’d love to know, whether or not it’s authentic, and perhaps if it is, whether or not it’s an antique. Thanks so much! :)

It might be worth taking it to a local Chinese or Japanese restaurant to see if the people there can read the characters. Knowing which language if it is and IF they are real characters should point you in a direction.
Go the biggest library available and check to see if you can find photos of fans like yours. (Make photocopies and any that seem similar and note the book and author.)
If there is a museum with an Asian department in your town, or a nearby city, you can ask if a curator would be willing to look at photos or the actual fan to give you some feedback. (You can mention your other research.)
They may not be willing, (or may be prevented by museum policy,) but if that’s the case, they should be willing to point you in the direction of someone who is knowledgeable about Asian fans.

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2 comments!!!

  1. unrealgan says:

    well all fans of that type are japaneese but since china is a mass producer of everything you really cant tell…
    for your help i put in the types of hand fans..

    Dansen uchiwa (断線団扇, Dansen uchiwa?) were large iron fans, sometimes built on a wooden core, which were carried by high-ranking officers. They were used to ward off arrows, as a sunshade, and to signal to troops.
    Gunsen (軍扇, Gunsen?) were folding fans used by the average warriors to cool themselves off. They were made of bronze, brass or a similar metal for the inner spokes, and often used iron for the outer spokes, making them lightweight but strong. Warriors would hang their fans from a variety of places, most typically from the belt or the breastplate, though the latter often impeded the use of a sword or a bow.
    Saihai (采配, Saihai?) were tasseled signalling fans which would be used by a commander to signal troop movements.
    Tessen (鉄扇, Tessen?) were folding fans with outer spokes made of iron which were designed to look like regular, harmless folding fans or solid clubs shaped to look like a closed fan. Samurai could take these to places where swords or other overt weapons were not allowed, and some swordsmanship schools included training in the use of the tessen as a weapon. The tessen was also used for fending off arrows and darts, as a throwing weapon, and as an aid in swimming, like hand-flippers

    compare the oriental characters and see… good luck!
    References :

  2. smallbizperson says:

    It might be worth taking it to a local Chinese or Japanese restaurant to see if the people there can read the characters. Knowing which language if it is and IF they are real characters should point you in a direction.
    Go the biggest library available and check to see if you can find photos of fans like yours. (Make photocopies and any that seem similar and note the book and author.)
    If there is a museum with an Asian department in your town, or a nearby city, you can ask if a curator would be willing to look at photos or the actual fan to give you some feedback. (You can mention your other research.)
    They may not be willing, (or may be prevented by museum policy,) but if that’s the case, they should be willing to point you in the direction of someone who is knowledgeable about Asian fans.
    References :

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