The Language of the Fan

My aunt Sarita, Titi Sarita, was the first person who introduced me to the Spanish tradition of fans. She seemed to have several, each served for a particular purpose or occasion. Her most ornate fans were used for special social events such as going to the Caparra Country Club or to La Casa de España, to which I was personally invited several times. Both of these venues were highly sought after, since they were the setting for elegant dinners, debutante balls, quinceañeros, and dances. They also were an opportunity to see how wealthy families partied, dressed, and conversed. Now looking back, I guess Titi thought it was a good idea for me to go to these parties with her and tall tio Angel Luis.

She was a talented seamtress among other things and she could make the simplest dress stand out like gold. No glitter really just first class. She had such good taste, such as a simple deep navy dress contrasted with an elegant white lace collar made of mundillo or bombin lace. So naturally she had a beautiful fan grace her hands, which she fluttered back and forth sometimes signaling a message. I felt a little clumsy because I didn't understand everything she was trying to tell as I had only been back to Puerto Rico for only a couple of years, but I do recall some of her gestures. Then I wasn't quite sure but now I know I was right. Pointing someone out by touching her cheek, turning her eyes behind the fan as she whispered something to the point. Touching her nose or her forehead, laying her fan in discreet direction. It was fun. With a lot of the chatter, I often didn't catch everything, but I caught enough of her hidden messages full of spice that it added mystery to that evening out.

The language of the fan.

Today, I found some of the things she was trying to teach me. At Doña Felisa Rincon de Gautier, they have a pdf file with the language of the fan. If you had wanted to know how to use a fan to communicate discretely with others, click on the link and begin fanning away!


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