[Northkeep] feather fans

Jennifer Carlson talana1 at hotmail.com
Sat Nov 6 18:42:44 PST 2004

I don't have any sources for pre-1560, but the book "Queen Elizabeth's 
Wardrobe Unlock'd" has numerous (and I do mean NUMEROUS) depictions of old 
Bess, and she apparently had a different fan for every gown.  Many are 
folding fans, but the bulk of them are made of ostrich tips - that's the end 
portion of the plume feathers, arranged so the tips all curl over in the 
same direction.  Feathers can be "set" to shape much like one's hair can be 
set.  Feathers, after all, are simply a fancified shaft of hair.

I've seen renfair feather fans, but they seem to be made of flight feathers 
- the tapered, leaf-shaped ones.  I haven't seen any period depictions of 
fans made of such, but then again, I am not the expert on feather fans.  You 
might try the historical costuming list.

I can adivse you to be leary of using peacock feathers - not only have I not 
seen any in the artwork of the period, but there's a lot of superstition 
attached to peacock plumage, depending on your culture.

Who in period wouldn't know what an ostrich looks like, though a former 
Archbishop of London allegedly owned a pair a hundred or so years before she 
was born.  Did you know they can digest iron nails?  That's what people say, 

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