Ronda: The Fan Dance

Friday, while strolling scaling the streets of Ronda, Judy and I noticed a shop called ArtesamArt ( There were some beautiful fans in the windows and the place didn’t look touristy, so we went inside.

I roamed the store and admired the jewellery, leather goods, pottery, and other handmade pieces while Judy talked with the salesperson, Maria. Judy was looking for a “typical Spanish fan.”

We met one of the owners, Francisco, who told us some of the history of fans and encouraged us to visit the exhibit space upstairs. He joined us and we got a private tour beyond compare. I had no idea the fan actually originated in Egypt and the folding fan was invented in China, probably in the 7th century.

Francisco explained to us how some of the different types of fans are made and also shared stories of his mother (a collector), grandmother, and great-grandmother. Apparently, his grandmother didn’t fan herself but slapped the open fan against her breast, while his great-grandmother opened and closed hers incessantly, never fanning herself, but instead tapping the closed fan against her open palm. We came home with little booklets describing the “language” of the fan.

We were in the store for well over an hour. I’m now a huge fan.


Lessons from the expert…