せんす【扇子】、おうぎ【扇】


■ The 扇子 is a hand-held fan. It is counted with 本(ほん) or, in pairs, 対(つい). Although (おうぎ) may refer to both 扇子 and 団扇(うちわ), it nearly always indicates only 扇子.

扇子 are of Japanese origin from around the early ninth century (the oldest extant fan is from 877). Their use includes cooling down, hiding embarrassment or laughter, and avoiding unpleasant odors (bathing was not a regular custom). This entry summarizes the early history of the 扇子.

The two main types of 扇子 are 檜扇(ひせん) and 蝙蝠(かわほり).

檜扇(ひせん), also written as 桧扇

The 檜扇 is made from strips of 檜 hinoki or Japanese cypress. These strips are known as 木簡(もっかん). Paper was a precious commodity, so these 木簡 were used for taking memos; by stringing them together, the first fan was made.

The number of 檜木簡 varies, with ancient 檜扇 made from five or fewer and modern ones made from more than 20. Traditionally, the number of 木簡 indicated the rank of the person using it.

Holes were punched at the bottom of the strips, which were then fastened with thread or with a gold or silver stopper known as a (かなめ). The top end of each strip was fastened with white thread.

Red fans (赤檜扇) were reserved for use by the emperor and crown prince; other males used a white fan (白檜扇) (see Bibliography #2). In the 平安時代, females began using an 袙扇(あこめおうぎ), also known as an 大翳(おおかざし), with more strips, an elaborate decoration and threads of five colors (五色の糸) that hung decoratively. 檜扇 with pictures are called 彩絵檜扇(いろえおうぎ).

In court, the 檜扇 was used in place of the memo stick (笏 shaku) when as part of the 衣冠 or 直衣 attire.

蝙蝠(扇)(かわほり)

In the 平安時代, usually five strips of wood or bamboo were fastened with a 要, and covered with 地紙(じがみ) on one side for a 紙扇(かみおうぎ) or paper fan. It is said that the expression 紙張り(かみはり) plus the bat-like action in this folding fan gave it its name, the kawahori or bat.

The 檜扇, with its more sturdy frame, became also known as the 冬扇(とうせん), and the 蝙蝠 and other 紙扇 became known as 夏扇(なつおうぎ).

By the fourteenth century, 扇子 were exported in great numbers to China, where they began to be made with both sides papered. This custom was subsequently adopted in Japan. These imports are known as 唐扇(とうせん).

□ Folding

Depending on how ostentatiously the 扇子 folds up, they are known as the 鎮折(しずめおり)、雪洞(ぼんぼり) and 中啓(ちゅうけい), also known as the 末広(すえひろ). A picture with all three is at 京扇子 - 扇の歴史.

扇合(おうぎあわせ)

A game where two people would present their 扇, and the poem or writing on the 扇 would be judged, with the better 扇 winning.

投扇(興)(とうせん(きょう))

A game popular in the Edo period where an 扇 would be thrown at a target set off of the ground. The manner in which the target fell and the open state of the 扇 determined the winner.

To learn how 扇子 are made, see KOUTEI.

The 扇子 were created over 1100 years ago, when only aristocrats were allowed to use them. They eventually became common in traditions such as tea ceremony and noh. They finally spread to the common people and are still in use today.


Vocabulary notes

袙扇 /akomeougi/

雪洞 /bonbori/

中啓 /chuukei/

平安時代 /heian jidai/, the Heian period, from 794 to the late 12th century.

檜扇 /hisen/

衣冠 /ikan/, a style of clothing worn at court. See 装束の種類(衣冠) for pictures. Note especially the difference in the head piece between this and 直衣.

彩絵檜扇 /iroe ougi/

地紙 /jigami/, paper used for umbrellas, fusuma sliding doors and 扇

紙扇 /kami ougi/

/kaname/

蝙蝠 /kawahori/, the old name for bat. The 漢字 are still used, though now read as こうもり /koumori/.

木簡 /mokkan/. The photo in the upper left at 京都の伝統工芸・京扇子 京団扇:京扇子いろいろ is a 木簡.

夏扇 /natsu-ougi/, summer fan

直衣 /noushi/, a style of clothing worn at court. See 装束の種類(直衣) for pictures. Note especially the memo stick (笏 shaku) in the right hand and the difference in the head piece between this and 衣冠.

/ougi/, also occasionally, /oogi/. Formerly pronounced あふぎ /afugi/.

扇合 /ougi awase/

大翳 /ookazashi/

扇子 /sensu/

鎮折 /shizume-ori/, lit. quiet folding

末広 /suehiro/

唐扇 /tousen/. 唐 here means China.

冬扇 /tousen/, winter fan

投扇(興) /tousen(kyou)

団扇 /uchiwa/, a round fan derived from China. See also せんす【扇子】、うちわ【団扇】...


Bibliography
1. Basic Terms of Shinto: H
2. これから源氏物語における扇について発表します
3. 京扇子 - 扇の歴史
4. 扇の歴j
5. Maisendo
6. 京都の伝統工芸・京扇子 京団扇:京扇子いろいろ (Dead link as of September 2000)

This entry was created by Benjamin Barrett.


Created 2000-08-08.


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