As a witness to the heyday of the fan industry of Hangzhou, this stone tablet of “the Fan Industry Founder Shrine” dates back to the rebuilding of the Fan Industry Guild in 1888 in No. 33, Xiaxingzhong Lane of Hangzhou after being destroyed in war. There were a founder shrine and an opera stage in the guild, surrounded by a wall with three gates. Inserted in the horizontal beam above the main door, this “凸”-shaped tablet looked as an integral part of the beam as it was made of the same material with the latter. Both figures and inscriptions on the tablet were done by creating indentation on the background, with continuous “卍” patterns lining along the four edges, coupled with three bat motifs on the lower edge, one in the center and the other two in the lower corners. The inscription is five Chinese characters of “the Fan Industry Founder Shrine”, composed of smooth, neat and even lines, giving this slab a sense of solemnity and magnificence.
According to recordings of the guild, a statue of Qi Wan, a duke of the Zhou dynasty (1046-771 BC) and acknowledged as the founder of the Chinese fan industry, was once worshiped in the shrine. There were also 462 name plates in the shrine, all of which belong to predecessor fan-making artisans in various procedures. Though small in size, this tablet serves as solid evidence that Hangzhou has been the center of China’s fan industry.