Antique Chinese Mandarin Fan Canton 1000 Faces Court Scene


Brand Poppy's Vintage Clothing

This is a wonderful antique Chinese Mandarin fan, also referred to as a Canton fan or 1000 Faces fan.  I acquired this fan during the 1980s from a 91 year old lady by the name of Alice Lighthall, who was the daughter of William Douw Lighthall, a noted Canadian lawyer, historian, novelist and philosopher as well as the mayor of Westmount from 1900 until 1903 - Westmount is a wealthy area of Montreal.  One of Mr Lighthall’s many interests was collecting art and ethnographic objects and, if I remember correctly, I believe that Miss Lighthall told me that her father visited the Far East around the turn of the century and brought back a number of objects including this antique Chinese Mandarin fan.

This antique Chinese Mandarin fan is made of carved sandalwood guards and sticks.  It is decorated with double sided paper leaf that is applied onto the monture and hand painted with a bird and flowers on one side and with a court scene on the other side.  The tips of the sticks are decorated with peacock feathers.  These types of antique Chinese Mandarin fans are referred to as Mandarin fans due to their depiction of figures, which are similar to mandarin (Chinese official) figures depicted on Chinese export porcelain.  They are also referred to as Canton fans because they were made for export to the European market and processed through the Port of Canton.  The people are portrayed by applied silk for their garments and have hand painted applied faces - please note my close-up photos.  These applied faces earned the name “1000 Faces” for these antique Chinese Mandarin fans.

This antique Chinese Mandarin fan measures 12 3/4” in height and about 18” in width when opened.  It is in very good condition with the exception of a few peacock feathers that are partially missing, and a tiny paper tear within a fold at one of the end spokes, really minor.  This antique Chinese Mandarin fan looks like it was simply put away when brought over from China and only taken out when we bought it - I’ve had tucked away for the last 35 to 40 years.

This is a wonderful example of an antique Chinese Mandarin fan in beautiful condition - these are not common.  Beautiful acquisition for the collector!