Coloured Washi Marugame Fans

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On the coast facing the Japan inland sea, the region of Marugame in Kagawa has a tradition in fans. The precise origins are difficult to trace, but it is thought that by the early Edo period (early 17th century), a small industry was in place. Some place the precise moment that a connection was made to a gift of fan given by a visiting monk from Kyushu, but in truth, the situation is obscure.

Using bamboo from the neighbouring Iyo region (modern Ehime), and paper from Tosa (current Kochi), the fans had an association with local materials from the very beginning. A lineage of craftspeople were supported by the feudal authorities, and this tradition for individual fan makers continues today. In all there are 47 separate handmade processes involved in making a Marugame fan, and at least 16 different styles.

The Marugame fan cooperative, maintains a register of craftspeople of particular fan making prowess, and are working hard to encourage a new generation.

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