Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. Global Perspectives 2010
A handheld fan, made of feathers, leaves, paper, or cloth, with sticks of ivory or wood, is one of the oldest accessories for men and women in the world. There are four basic styles: feather, leaf, folding, and flat. The best-known feather fans use the plumage of the African ostrich. Palm leaves often served as early fans, but any other large leaf could be used. A flat fan is sometimes said to be Chinese in origin. Round in shape, the framed surface could be paper or cloth such as silk or gauze.