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The fan leaf is the pleated portion of the fan attached to the upper part of the sticks (the ribs). It is generally made of paper, vellum, silk, or lace. Often the fan has a double leaf, with the ribs encapsulated between the two leaves.


The long rigid pieces which form the main structure of the fan. These are usually made of ivory, tortoiseshell, mother-of-pearl or wood.


The pivot, usually metal, which holds the guards and sticks together at the base of the fan and on which they move to open and close.


The area of the sticks below the leaf, often richly decorated.


The two outer sticks of the fan which protect it when closed. They are generally heavier and more elaborately decorated than the sticks


The upper part of the sticks which support the leaf. These are visible (though often carefully disguised) on the verso of the fan when a leaf of single thickness has been used (à l’anglaise). Otherwise the ribs are completely hidden by a second leaf applied to the back of the fan. 

Foredge decoration

The decoration of a fan is not always to be seen only when it is fully open. The carving along the foredge of these ivory sticks is only visible when the fan is closed.


A fan comprising sticks and guards but no leaf. The sticks – often made of ivory, but occasionally of materials such as card – are joined by a ribbon or cord along the upper edge. 

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