Fabulous Fans – Fantastic Fanfare!

Combining practicality, craftsmanship and artistry to achieve its extraordinary fame, the silk fan is a popular traditional Chinese art form with a long history and broad appeal, its fan base ranges from Chinese emperors, the literati to commoners.

The art of silk fan painting reached its peak in the Song dynasty (960 – 1279 AD), thanks in part to the fine silk materials produced at the time.

 

 

Lotus, by Wu Bing, Song dynasty

 

Spring Mountains and Fishing Boat, by Zhang Xunli, Song dynasty

 

Peach Blossoms, Song dynasty

Silk fan painting has a more decorative purpose compared with silk scroll paintings. It would require quick, one-time completion by the designer / artist, without stopping in the middle of the project. Due to the limitation of the fan size, the artist has to carefully design the lines, ink colors and composition beforehand.

Immortal Riding Crane To Jade Pavilion, Song dynasty

Valued far above silk embroidery and silk brocades, Kesi or Chinese silk tapestry is a treasured traditional Chinese silk art production technique.

Kesi silk art could be traced back to the Tang dynasty (618 – 907 AD).  Starting from the Song dynasty, Kesi technique was often applied to produce replicas of fine art paintings with enhanced features, such as its unique double-sided three-dimensional effects.

Highly decorative and expressive silk art, such as these elegant silk fans,  are produced with the Kesi technique.

Today’s silk fans designers combine an assorted materials, i.e. beads, feathers, as well as ornate embroidery stitchings to embellish the silk surface, achieving even fancier effects.