Madrid cheap souvenir: Spanish fans
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.