This is a wonderful circa 1850 antique China Trade fan which shows a large gathering of 25 little figures on one side, and a bird and floral scene flanked by two smaller medallion painted scenes. Faces of the figures are of ivory, and in this fan, there are many individual expressions. The lacquered sticks are also painted in gold, and show further scenes of people with equally pains-taking detail. And of course the ends are very elaborately painted in gold. The folded fan goes in a fitted lacquered wooden box. The box itself is lacquered on the outside and decorated inside. The fan ribs are 10 1/2 inches long. Except for some wear at the fold creases, everything is in outstanding condition and the color as well as the gilt paint are exceptional, including the box. (This fan and the French fan I have listed came from the same estate. Everything was in outstanding condition.)
The colorful party, the laborers on the sticks and the village scenes in the medallions (see detailed explanation below) all make this one of the most extraordinary compositions on an export China trade fan. It is a true micro-cosmos.
Be sure to see my other Chinese export fan with carved sandalwood sticked also listed now.
Notes. The scenes from these old export fans are usually taken from Chinese novels or operas, or they show a festival. For this one, people at the gathering are all dressed in the Song dynasty style in the garb of well to do civilians (as opposed to military). The unusual feature here is that the center of attention is on one man who is readying a bow to shoot something. This could be a shooting contest, although we don't see the target. Often, the objective is one ear of an "ear vase" which originated in this era specifically for the contest. (The archer needs too know the falling trajectory of his arrow.).
The figures on the sticks (ribs) are painted in gold. But they were actually the servants and bearers. We see them resting by the sedan chairs. The side medallions on the reverse side show houses next to verdant fields and the wall of a prosperous compound. The party may be taking place behind those walls.