Adornments : Mother of Pearl Fan

Italian Mother of Pearl Fan

Fans, such as this beautiful hand painted Italian fan, were a key adornment during the mid 19th century, enhancing both a woman's body and her social life. A fashionable lady’s ensemble was not complete without all the right accessories, and women often had so many things to carry that fan makers began attaching a loops or tassels to the ends of fans so that women could slip the fan over their wrists, as seen here. Chief among these important accessories, fans were a tool in the single woman’s arsenal for luring in a future husband and were used for all kinds of flirtation and gossiping at balls and social gatherings. In literature, fans were frequently used as an erotic metaphor for things that must remain hidden, including women's bodies.