Pien-mien, Face Cover Fan


Photo of Pien-mien, Face Cover Fan

Detailed Images

Basic Information

Artifact Identification Pien-mien, Face Cover Fan   (2007.12.0003A)
Classification Personal Artifacts : Personal Gear : Personal Assistive Artifacts
Artist/Maker None
Geographic Location Asia, East, China
Period/Date Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), 17th century
Culture Chinese

Physical Analysis

Dimension 1 (Length) 32.5 cm
Dimension 2 (Width) 13.5 cm
Dimension 3 (Depth) .2 cm
Weight 67 g
Measuring Remarks Width taken at widest portion of fan, length does not include tassels, depth reflects that of fan face (not handle).
Materials Plant--Bamboo, Textile, Pigment--Dye, Plant--Wood, Plant--Zitan
Manufacturing Processes Carved, Dyeing, Woodbending, Twisting, Drilling
Munsell Color Information N/A

Research Remarks

Published Description N/A

"A rare Chinese bamboo and zitan pien-mien. Three basic types of Chinese fans evolved: the rigid Pien-mien, or face cover fan; the T’uan-shan, or ceremonial fan; and the Che-shan, or folding fan. 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. It is rare for a Pien-mien to be produced in bamboo and zitan (the handle made of zitan). This Pien-mien is trapezoidal in shape, with one side curled, the bamboo portion carved through the pale skin creating a design. The difficult technique of carving through the bamboo skin is term Liu-ch-ing. The fan was finely carved with a motif of a fisherman in a boat with a bamboo rod having a fish on the end of the line, in low relief, 13” long, 17th century, Qing dynasty." - Bernie McManus, Appraiser, Woodbury House, 10/29/2007

Bamboo is revered as a symbol of long life, constancy and fidelity. Bamboo (Bambuse arundinacea) is the most difficult wood to carve. It is as hard as horn, although it is hollow and segmented. It is lustrous and it ranges in hue from lemon to black, with warm tones in cherry red, tortoise shell, and mahogany, as well as variegated hues.

Zitan wood is a purplish black wood and one of the most important woods in Chinese decorative arts. Zitan is the hardest and heaviest of all the hardwoods. Due to the scarcity of large zitan trees, objects made of zitan are considered exceptional treasures. There are two species which are native to China: Pterocarpus santalinus and Pterocarpus indicus." - Bernie McManus, Appraiser, Woodbury House, Connecticut, 10/29/2007


Sotheby’s, NY lot 707, 3/19/07, sale #8299, A Chinese zitan and bamboo-veneer fan Qing dynasty, dated 1855, of trapezoidal shape with one side curled up and the other side rounded, decorated on the front in low-relief with a dragonfly with a red stinger hovering over orchids and chrysanthemums, the reverse inscribed with a poem by Wang Xun, dated 1855, the handle made of zitan, 10 1/4”.

Bibliography N/A

Artifact History

Archaeological Data N/A
Credit Line/Dedication Fred A. Freund Collection
Reproduction N/A
Reproduction Information N/A

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