Madrid cheap souvenir: Spanish fans

Posted in: Madrid


Lovely Spanish fans. Photo by fuzuoko
Lovely Spanish fans. Photo by fuzuoko

Cheapos in search of a bargain take-home-prize from the land of flamenco need only peek at the sophisticated ladies of Spain. Not only do decorative fans provide personal air-conditioning in Europe’s balmy southwestern country, they’re also a fan-tastic piece of history to bring home. Cool!

Wave to the folks back home

The first known use of human-hand powered fans, made of palm leaves, were those to ward insects off Egyptians. In a later incarnation, high-born women spread a hand-held fashion craze, extending to every corner of Asia and Europe where weather was humid and dress was fancy and layered.

By the 18th century, specialized craftsmen used leaves, sticks, lace, silk, and parchment to create breezy constructs before fans were decorated and hand painted. With rhythms of flamenco, fans swung into the dance and music scene of Andalusia Spain.

Today, handcrafted Spanish fans can cost hundreds of euros. However, fantastic plastic and paper counterparts can be purchased for €5 to €10 from street vendors, inside shops along the Gran Via in Madrid, or even at some museum gift shops.

While you’re at it…

As long as you’re dancing along to the el baile flamenco beat, pick up a set of castanets, which can be found for €7 to €12. While flamenco dancers hold them in their hands and click the wooden ovals together to the rhythm of the music, bargainistas hear the sound of cheap.

About the author

Kari Hoerchler

En junio 2000, Kari moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina and never looked back...until she ran out of pesos. After another round of bank riots, the travel lady bug moved to more stable financial ground: Wall Street. (Hey, no laughing!) Currently the Listings Manager for Over There Interactive for cold, hard cash, she is also a co-author of The Maneater Murder Mystery Series and Venue Goddess for Lit Crawl NYC.

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