Your Weekend Wow!

Everything in my purse is functional…period. Wallet, lip balm, nail file, packet of facial tissues, keys, phone – each one sleek, practical, functional and absolutely devoid of beauty. But there was a time when functional did not necessarily mean plain. How I would love to open my handbag to a little treasure trove of loveliness.

Carved Faux Cow Bone Brisé Fan (Fächer eventail ventaglio abanico), 1870.

Carved Faux Cow Bone Brise Fan (Fächer eventail ventaglio abanico) 1870

What is a Brisé Fan?

There are two major types of fans: folding fans and brisé fans. The blades of folding fans are held together by a pleated paper leaf which is glued to one or both sides of the fan blades. Brisé fans consist only of blades that get continuously wider from the rivet to the top, forming the appearance of a solid surface. They are held together by a fabric band woven through each blade. (The term brisé means “broken” in French.)

Brisé fans were relatively common until about 1730, then practically nonexistent until 1800/1810. The early brisé fans have smooth blades without any carving or piercing, painted across the whole surface. There usually is a break between the lower and upper part that seems to emulate the border between blade and leaf as seen on folding fans. The band or ribbon that holds the blades together is woven through the top end of the blades. Post-1800 brisé fans are typically pierced down their whole length, which is only about 15 cm (5.9 inches). (

Folding fans:

Brisé fans: