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  • Place of origin:

    Japan (made)

  • Date:

    1850-1870 (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Bamboo, painted silk, ivory encrusted with hardstones, horn and coloured ivory

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Sir Matthew Digby Wyatt and Lady Wyatt

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 125, Edwin and Susan Davies Gallery, case 3

Object Type
Late 19th-century Japanese export fans were made in a wide variety of materials and forms. This fan has a double leaf painted with a different design on either side. Although it has relatively simple bamboo sticks, the guards, which would have been visible even when the fan was closed, are very ornate. The use of ivory encrusted with hardstones and other materials was a style of workmanship especially popular in the West. The high level of ornamentation on export fans is very different from what is found on fans for the native Japanese market. The use of subject matter such as women wearing kimono is also more typical of export than domestic products.

The opening up of Japan in the mid-1850s after more than two centuries of seclusion from the rest of the world triggered a huge expansion in the manufacture of export goods in various media. These were avidly bought by western collectors, artists and designers, and played a central role in the development of 'Japonisme' and then art nouveau.

Place of Origin

Japan (made)


1850-1870 (made)

Materials and Techniques

Bamboo, painted silk, ivory encrusted with hardstones, horn and coloured ivory


Height: 27.2 cm, Width: 42.2 cm maximum, open, Depth: 2.4 cm maximum, open, Length: 13 cm tassel

Descriptive line

Painted fan, bamboo, painted silk, ivory encrusted with hardstones, horn and coloured ivory, Japan, 1850-1870

Labels and date

British Galleries:
Fans were one item that people wishing for the 'Japanese look' could easily afford. This is a particularly good example, however, and would have been relatively expensive. Fans were bought to be used or, more often, to add a touch of the exotic to the decoration of the drawing room. [27/03/2003]

Subjects depicted

Flowers; Birds; Figures; Men; Kimonos; Landscapes (representations); Women; Buildings


Accessories; Personal accessories; Fashion


East Asia Collection

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