The folding fan was invented in Japan around the 6th to 8th century. It was a court fan called the Akomeogi after the court women's dress named Akome. According to the Song Sui (History of Song), a Japanese monk Chonen (938?1016) offered the folding fans (twenty wooden-bladed fans, hiogi and two paper fans, kawahori-ogi, to the emperor of China in 988. Later in 11th century, Korean envoys brought along Korean folding fans which were of Japanese origin as gifts to Chinese court. The popularity of folding fans was such that sumptuary laws were promulgated during Heian period which restricted the decoration of both hiogi and paper folding fans. They were made by tying thin stripes of hinoki (or Japanese cypress) together with thread. The number of strips of wood differed according to the person's rank. Later in the 16th century Portuguese traders introduced it to the west and soon both men and women throughout the continent adopted it. They are used today by Shinto priests in formal costume and in the formal costume of the Japanese court (they can be seen used by the Emperor and Empress during coronation and marriage) and are brightly painted with long tassels. Simple Japanese paper fans are sometimes known as "harisen". In Japanese pop culture, Harisen are featured in anime and graphic novels as weapons. Source:Wikipedia
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