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The large, fan from Burma is gilded and inlaid with glass backed with foil of silver, green and blue colours. The shape is based on the simple palm-leaf fans afforded to novice and less senior monks. The frame is of carved teak wood and the body of the fan is of lacquered, woven bamboo strips.
It is not a fan for a monk to shield his eyes from harsh sunlight as he walks outside, but a ceremonial fan used by a senior monk when chanting or reciting prayers from memory during temple and monastic ceremonies. The senior monk would sit cross-legged, and the wavy handle is designed to rest across the natural contour of his thigh while one hand holds the end of the handle to keep it steady. The fan then shields the monk’s face so that he can fully concentrate on reciting from memory the chants, without distraction. Junior monks and other attendees sit before the chanting senior monk, also cross legged. The fan would be raised only while the monk recited his chants.
Similar fans used in Thailand tended to have a straight handle and were held upright, whereas this type from Burma has the thick, wavy handle to allow the weight of the fan (which is considerable) to be borne by the monk’s thigh.
The example here is in excellent condition. It has obvious age but no losses to the glass inlay. It is highly decorative and with an evocative story.
Fraser-Lu, S., Burmese Lacquerware, White Orchid Books, 2000.