This is a lotus leaf-shaped fan made from a single frond of the Palmyra Palm. The palm is reinforced with strips of bamboo sewn to the leaf, and the margins are trimmed to an oval shape. There is a long red lacquered wooden handle attached to the base of the leaf.

The object is part of the William Ninnis Porter Collection and can be dated to late 19th Century. Porter has donated many objects from tribal areas but the actual provenance of these fans is unknown. The fan is used by monks during assembly where it is held before the face during meditation. It is also used to screen the monk when in the presence of a woman.

There is a second ‘yat’ in the collection – 29.1907 – which is of the same type. It was also donated by Porter. However, the condition of the palm leaf is fragile, and sections have deteriorated.

References to these types of fans can be found in ‘Burmese Crafts, Past and Present’ (Fraser-Lu 1994:292). An excellent collection of fans from the Indian subcontinent can be seen at The Fan Museum in Greenwich, London. There are many parallels between Indian and Burmese palm leaf fans, as observed in their catalogue for a recent exhibition on the collection of Jatin Das called ‘Pankha’ (see the last page of the catalogue specifically, and no.18, no.9).

Jatin Das was quoted saying that the real perpetuators of arts and crafts in India are the poor and middle classes (Das 2004: Intro.) Comparisons may be drawn with Burma, in that because of the tropical climate and shortage of electricity fan making survives. As suggested by Jacqueline Morris ‘fans are as old as hot weather’ (Das 2004: Intro.)

Object Summary

Accession Loan No.
Collection Class
Personal objects
Collection Area Region
palm leafcanepigment
Common Name
Simple Name
Production County
Shan / Chin State
Production Country

View Full Details