This Fan brooch is marked silver and ‘Siam’. Since 1949 Siam has been called Thailand. The majority of Siamese Silver jewellery was made between 1930s and 1990s, with figures, buildings or animals depicting characters and scenes from Buddhist and Hindu tales and religious texts. Unusually for a piece of Siamese silver, my brooch depicts a mask, so it may have been made for the export market. The other unusual characteristic is that it has turquoise blue enamel whereas most Siamese jewellery is black Niello work.
The brooch has matching earrings which I’ve recently had converted from clip into pierced so I can wear them more easily. The brooch itself has a hook at the back so it can also be worn as a pendant increasing its versatility.
The history of fans goes back at least 3,000 years. Originally fans were fixed; the folding fan didn’t come in until the 18th century. At the beginning of the 18th century fans depicted biblical scenes from the Old Testament, for example, ‘Moses Striking the Rock’
‘Moses Striking the Rock’
The 18th century saw the development of the printed fan which were cheaper to manufacture. Fans at last were available to a wider audience and became a normal and must-have fashion accessory during the 19th century. In the second half of the 19th century fans perhaps reached their peak and in Paris great maisons sprang up supplying the royalty of Europe and the upper echelons of polite society with magnificent de luxe creations of superb quality.
I’m lucky to live in SE London where there is the Fan Museum based in Royal Greenwich, opened in 1991 which owns over 4,000 fans. It is well worth a visit.
Is Fan design and making still alive in the 21st century? Yes, Sylvain Le Guen who was born in 1977 outside Paris had an exhibition of his work at the Fan Museum in 2011 and in 2013 opened his own studio and showroom in Paris. You can find out more about Sylvain at his website Maison Sylvain Le Guen .