Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Uchiwa AKA Oopsie-wa

My wonderful and amazing apprentice, Satake no Nana aka Shauna Sal Speranza, was long overdue on receiving a Baronial Arts and Sciences award from the Barony of Gryphon's Lair. I begged Their Excellencies to allow me to create the scroll.

My initial plan was to create a custom hand-painted silk folding fan, to support and honor all the work she has put into her Japanese research and persona. Unfortunately time and finances got away from me and when my husband saw an Uchiwa (rigid paper fan) at an Asian shop, I picked it up to use as a frame.

This is one of those cases where I made assumptions and tried to document my work after the fact. Oopsie.

It appears that the Uchiwa, or rigid fan, is a Chinese export, most likely not being popular in Japan until decidedly post-SCA Period. They were largely wood-block printed on rice paper and extremely popular from 1644 until today.

The pien-mien is the Chinese equivalent. The earliest pien-mien (fixed fan) was a fan covered with feathers or silk stretched over a frame and either painted or embroidered. It was not until the Song dynasty [960-1279] that painting these fans became an accepted, indeed esteemed, branch of art. This type of fan derives its name from the use to which it was put: hiding the face and consequently concealing the emotions. Officials, for example, shielded their faces with these fans to signify their unwillingness to be approached by petitioners. reference: Spurlock Museum

Unfortunately I lack the language and searching skills to find sufficient evidence of earlier period examples, even those from China using the internet. This will require books I don't have and additional research. Again, oopsie. But here's a bread crumb I found. 
So, lessons were learned about researching first, and not making assumptions. However, the rigid fan is EXCELLENT for personal cooling (far superior to a folding fan), and since Nana spends a great deal of time marshaling the rapier field, it is still a very usable tool for her.

I used the commercial uchiwa as a frame, traced the shape onto blue paper, and drew her personal unregistered device onto the center. Her colors are navy and hot pink. The text is written in the style of a haiku in faux-Japanese using Finetec gold gouache. I then drew Japanese style motifs on each of the fans in the same gold, and glued it to the fan base using PVA glue.

I left the back of the fan as purchased, with it's pretty Japanese koi pond print. I used a thin strip of gold paper from my bookbinding stash to bind the outer ridge.  It is rather sturdy and creates a wonderful breeze.

The text reads (vertical, right to left):
For outstanding skill
Sharing artistic prowess
Gryphon and Candle

Satake no Nana
June thirty AS LII being 2017


Haiku is a Japanese poetic form consisting of 17 syllables arranged in lines of 5, 7, and 5. Again, assumptions were made without prior research, and I've come to find out that haiku didn't gain distinction until the Tokugawa Era (1603-1770). Oopsie. 

So overall, mistakes were made, but despite all that I like the finished product and Nana liked it so I'll call it a win, if an embarrassing one.

Edit: Nana sent me a link to a Tang Dynasty sample, to solidify the mien-pien information:

Zhou Fang painting (Tang Dynasty)