I'll have a lot more to say about this in my future book, but a recent trip to Williamsburg, Virginia has inspired me. Trying to determine whether fans are miniature or not involves understanding what their full-size counterpoints would look like. In this case, I've identified 3 fans with very similar shapes.
I found a full-sized fan, which will draw a nice comparison to several multiple miniature fans in our collection.
This fan came from the Williamsburg, Virginia, USA. It's a full size fan, 15 1/2 inches (39.4 cm) long. (Or, it's possible that it is a face screen, which is used to protect a face from the heat of a fireplace.) It is comprised of a woven fiber leaf and a different kind of woven edging. The woven leaf pocket is attached to the wooden handle via a piece of curved metal and a tiny screw.
This is a miniature fan, in comparison to the previous one. It's 8 5/8" (21.6 cm) long. This would perhaps be the length for a child, or for a larger doll. It is comprised of a printed batik fabric (similar to a glazed chintz in a pattern edged in gold) and a basket-woven handle. A similar, full-sized Malaysian fan is 30 cm long.
And finally, this is a tiny miniature fan, only 2 1/2" (6.4 cm) long. This would be a reasonable length for a small doll. It appears to be hand-made, from silk fabric and silk floss on the handle.
Since I had very little direction when I started collecting smaller fans, I gained my direction through comparisons to other fans I could locate. These comparisons aren't perfect. Also, the proportions change from style to style. But they serve as a good point of contrast as I'm studying various styles and scales.
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