Paper fan (1820/1830) by Unknown authorNational Museum of Costume in Portugal
This fan probably belongs to the School of Macau and was produced c.1820-1830, either in Macau or in Canton (Guangzhou) for direct export to Europe, particularly Portugal.
The fan exhibits characteristic motifs and colours, such as landscapes of the Pearl River, sailing ships on the recto, flowers and birds on the verso painted in intense hues with golden backgrounds.
Fans, depicting maps on the theme of emotions and allegorical travels, have predecessors in the maps and descriptions of the 17th century abounding in literature. It is a sort of "geography of love" or "gallant geography" in novels and maps featuring seas and lands of hope and deceit, love and jealousy.
This fan entitled Viagens do Amor (Love travels), as written in the leaf’s lower border, is most probably derived from the concept of the allegorical travels.
The recto of the leaf features an allegorical map depicting a travel through the Sea of Hope ("Mar da Esperancas"), colourfully hand painted with text written in black ink.
The journey, delineated by a line of dashes, begins in the lower left sector of the map, on the coast of Land of the Heart ("Terreno do Coração"). The ship Vanity ("A Vaidade") sails east to the Course of Trifles ("Rota das Bagatellas").
From the Stream of Sympathy ("Torrente da Simpatia") the ship Reason ("A Razão") proceeds along the Route of Constancy ("Rumo da Constança").
To the north there is the ship Freedom ("A Liberdade") and the Meadows of Longing ("Campinas das Saudades").
The marked trail goes on through the Strait of Virtue ("Estreito da Virtude") between the Promontory of Sighs ("Promontório dos Suspiros") and the Castle of Whispering ("Castelo da Murmuração").
Exiting the strait, the Tower of Remembrance ("Torre da Lembrança") emerges on the promontory side with the bay Port of Desolation ("Porto da Desconsolação") behind.
The route passes along the ship called Desire ("O Appetite") and continues through the Shoals of Hallucinations ("Cachopos dos Desvarios")...
... leaving the Fountain of Tears ("Fonte das Lágrimas") and the Coast of Desperation ("Costa da Desesperação") in the northern coastal side.
To the south, the route leaves the Whirlpool of Vices ("Sorvedouro dos Vicíos") and the Woods of Defamation ("Mata da Maledicência") behind...
... and proceeds off the volcano erupting Island of Jealousy ("Ilha dos Ciúmes").
The ship Constancy ("A Constança") then passes along the Lighthouse of Promises ("Farol das Promessas") guarding the Shallows of Deceit ("Bancos do Engano") in the end of Cape of Ingratitude ("Cabo da Ingratidão").
The Lake of Oblivion ("Lago do Esquecimento") with the Temple of Disillusion ("Templo do Desengano") on the shore is just across the Shallows, on the southern side of the Cape.
On the northern side, there is the Place of Envy ("Praça da Inveja") and the smaller ship Dido. The journey reaches its end in the Port of Happiness ("Porto da Felicidade") with the Temple of Love ("Templo do Amor") bordering the Forest of Graces ("Selva da Graça").
The map is framed with fruit motifs bordered with a golden edge.
The double-sided paper leaf is applied in the monture made ivory. The guards and sticks are finely carved with flowers, vegetation and birds and a monogram in the centre.
Ivory was a very fine material for fans’ montures, imported from Southeast Asia and Africa during the Ming (1368-1644) and Quing (1644-1911) dynasties. Canton was a trading centre where imported goods where quickly available and an important centre for ivory produce. Highly skilled craftsmen worked ivory not only for the domestic market but also for export.
Texts: Xénia Flores Ribeiro
Online exhibition: Cândida Caldeira e Xénia Flores Ribeiro