Folding Fan of the Family von Salis

Jenins, 2nd half 18th century

In the 18th century fans were a popular fashion accessory. As a consequence they were elaborately designed. Our exhibit of ivory, silk and silver is an especially luxurious example.

It once belonged to Maria Anna Franziska Bessler-von Wattingen (died 1808), the wife of Marshal Johann Heinrich Anton von Salis-Zizers. This precious fan emphasised her high social status. However, whether it also served her to pass on «secret messages», as is sometimes claimed, must be doubted. Since the existence of a «fan language», by means of communication through certain gestures, is very likely pure fantasy.