Hand-held fans still popular in Pakistan

In most parts of Pakistan where the sizzling summer continues for about eight months coupled with prolonged power outages of up to 22 hours as a daily routine, the hand-held fans are a great source of relief from the hot weather, as they are used to induce airflow for the purpose of cooling or refreshing oneself by ‘agitating the air’ (Pien-Mien), as is said in Chinese language.

The hand-held fans had been in use in summer since ancient days when there was no electricity but the invention of electricity couldn’t affect its importance, as even in 21st century these fans are in great demand especially in rural areas of country. The hand-held fan-making is source of livelihood for many families, as in certain date-producing areas the fan-making has become a home-based industry and all the family members including women and children are engaged in work.

The hand-held fans made in Pakistan are different from those of Chinese and other Asian and East Asian countries. Mostly, very simple fans in half circle and square shape are made in Pakistan, which are very cheap to buy but fancy fans too with embroidery work are prepared and sold at comparatively high rates. The embroidered fans are beautiful and often are used as decoration pieces or gifts.

These beautiful fans are the wonderful creation of Sindhi, Balochi, Punjabi and Siraiki people of Sindh, Balochistan and Punjab provinces of country. Villagers work on this fan very carefully and minute things are kept under consideration using number of different materials such as branches and leaves of date-tree for building the base and handle, red and pink silk fabric etc.

In these photographs a family is busy making the hand-held fans in a village in Larkana district of Sindh province. According to this family, they sell a dozen fans to the wholesalers for Pakistani rupees 100 (A US dollar is equivalent to 95 rupees) and earn hardly rupees 800 (less than 8 US dollars) a day. The wholesalers then supply it to the retailers charging rupees 5 per fan and the retailers sell it at double price in the market. The cost of fancy fans is around 100 to 150 rupees.

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