To celebrate the fact that I am seeing my first live Noh performance this week AND that I can finally get photos off my lovely new camera, here are some of the fans Noh actors might use in performance:
On stage and off, Noh actors and most Noh musicians are chained to their fans. The good quality ones, like these, are works of art: beautiful, delicate, as light and strong as an arrow fletching. But they also feel weighted, and they sit in your hand in the way I imagine a sword might if it was made just for you. Before I went on the Noh course at Reading, I never could have imagined either 1) that fans could possibly be so expensive to buy or 2) that they could become indispensable, a part of the body. But, even in two short weeks on the training course, practically living with the fan in hand, I got a sickening sinking feeling on the way to Reading on the final day, that I might have left it at home. It was much more like losing my passport ('oh. my. GOD') or coming out of the house with only one leg in my trousers (erk) than, say, forgetting my umbrella ('ah well, that's annoying but I'll be ok'). I have been known to tend towards the melodramatic...but even so.
My fan was very much 'entry level', as plain as possible
A Noh actor without his beautiful, expensive, 'as important as remembering to wear a shirt in The Savoy or somewhere' fan, would be a very strange sight indeed!