In the Victorian era, hand-fans were used not only to cool oneself but also as a secret way to communicate the language of love. For example, by running one’s fingers through the fan’s ribs, one is trying to say, "I want to talk to you." The enigmatic language of the fan was widely used by both men and women.
I. A fan placed near the heart.
"You have won my love."
II. A closed fan touching the right eye.
"When may I be allowed to see you?"
III. A closed fan moved threateningly.
"Do not act so impudently!"
IV. A half-opened fan pressed to the lips.
"You may kiss me."
V. Covering the left ear with an open fan.
"Do not betray my secret."
VI. Hiding the eyes behind an open fan.
"I love you."
VII. Shutting a fully open fan slowly.
"I promise to marry you."
VIII. Fanning oneself slowly.
"I am married."
IX. Letting one’s fan rest on the right cheek or the left.
"Yes" and "No", interchangeably.
X. Opening and closing the fan several times.
"You are cruel."
XI. Fan in front of the face.
XII. Twirling the fan in the left hand.
"We are being watched."
XIII. Fan held over left ear.
"I wish to be rid of you."
XIV. Carrying an open fan in the left hand.
"Come and talk to me."
XV. Opening a fan wide.
"Wait for me."
XVI. Placing the fan behind the head with finger.
[Artwork: Secret, by Lee Yun-hi.]
WHAT IF YOU WERE JUST HOLDING A FAN AND NOT TRYING TO SAY ANYTHING BUT YOU ACTUALLY PROMISED SOME GUY YOU’D MARRY HIM
[I WANT THIS AU PLEASE?]
Allow me. It’s not an AU, but I want to. I’m sticking a time-traveler into the society struggling with what I just read. I write Sci-Fi. This is a very rough draft.
I sat carefully on the edge of my seat, staring at my fan. This could go horribly wrong. I wasn’t society bred or born even in my own time. I wasn’t even British! I knew fans could mean things. I had seen The Princess Dairies Movies, but what was I supposed to do without saying something stupid, especially in this heat?
That’s when he looked at me again. I had met him earlier, just before Dr. Jones had shooed me off so he could speak to some colleagues. Edmound, a name that brought to mind sparkly pedophilic vampires. It didn’t help that he looked about thirty-five. He had expressed a slight interest in wanting to know me, even though I was still keeping up the gise of muteness.
The look he gave me now was one, not of simple interest, but of thinly veiled lust.
I tried to open fan to cover my reddening face. Unfortunately, it appeared to be sticking. It opened much slower than I wanted it to.
I peaked over it. Edmound was still staring at me, this time with one eyebrow raised. I looked away, closed the fan, and stood up to leave the room. Where did a young lady go to hide at one of these hideous balls?
Edmound came up to me then. “Are you lost, Miss Jones?” he asked.
I shook my head.
"Looking for your uncle then?"
I nodded, once.
He offered me his arm. “Shall we?” I didn’t take his arm but instead walked behind him. It wasn’t until we completely alone that he spoke again. “I do not recall proposing marriage but I am quite flattered you would accept if I did.”
Oh goodness! STUPID FAN. Please let him be letting me down gently.