June 18, 2024


I Fall For Art

Language of Flamenco Fans

For those of you using a flamenco fan as part of your dance choreography, heed the following (taken from a sheet of paper passed to me by a student – I do not know where it came from originally). I am not sure how you could be certain that the right person received your message – nor how many people I have mistakenly agreed to marry in the past:

Fans have been used to convey messages during times when the strict rules of behavious did not permit conversation to take place freely. The first organised fan language appeared in Spain, which consisted of 55 movements to correspond with certain meanings. This was later translated into English but reduced to 33 coded signs:

  • Carrying in right hand in front of face – follow me
  • Carrying in left hand in front of face – desirous of acquaintance
  • Placing fan on left ear – I wish to be rid of you
  • Drawing across forehead – you have changed
  • Twirling in left hand – we are watched
  • Carrying in right hand – you are too willing
  • Drawing through the hand – I hate you
  • Twirling in the right hand – I love another
  • Drawing across the cheek – I love you
  • Presented shut – do you love me?
  • Drawing across the eyes – I am sorry
  • Touching tip with finger – I wish to speak with you
  • Letting fan rest on right cheek – yes
  • Letting fan rest on left cheek – no
  • Open and shut – you are cruel
  • Dropping it – we will be friends
  • Fanning slowly – I am married
  • Fanning quickly – I am engaged
  • With handle to lips – kiss me
  • Open wide – wait for me
  • Carrying fan in left hand open – come and talk to me
  • Place behind head – don’t forget me
  • With little finger extended – goodbye
  • Shut fan held to heart – you have won my love
  • Shut fan resting on right eye – when will I be allowed to see you?
  • Presenting fan part open – at what hour?
  • Touching unfolded fan in the act of waving – I long to be near you always
  • Threaten with shut fan – do not be so unprudent
  • Gazing pensively at shut fan – why do you misunderstand me?
  • Pressing half opened fan to lips – you may kiss me
  • Clasping your hands under open fan – please forgive me
  • Cover left ear with open fan – do not betray our secret
  • Shut fully opened fan very slowly – I promise to marry you