Inventory no.: 1912

Indian Temple Fans


Pair of Temple Fans Embellished with Fluorescent Beetle Wings


17th-18th century

length of handles: 40cm, width of fan: 28cm

This pair of hand fans are remarkable for their age and their use of fluorescent beetle wings which have been applied as decorative devices. No other similar fans decorated with beetle wings seem to have been published.

The fans comprise turned, wooden polychrome handles with attached fan faces of stiffened calico embellished with embroidery, metal sequins, almond-shaped fluorescent green beetle wings and strands of tightly sewn straw.

Such fans were used ritually in temples and in temple processions, usually to fan bronze images of Krishna and other idols, in keeping with the practice of treating such images as if they are life-like.

The condition of the fans reflects their age – both fans have one side that is relatively bright and the other is faded from prolonged exposure to light. Some of the embroidery is frayed and some of the beetle wings now are missing. The fans are in their original state; no restoration is evident.


Aryan, S., Unknown Masterpieces of Indian Folk and Tribal Art, KC Aryan’s Home of Folk Art, 2005.

Hutt, J. et al, Fans from the East, Debrett/V&A, 1978.


Scottish art market

Inventory no.: 1912