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An abaniko (from the Spanish word abanico, meaning fan) is a type of hand-held fan that originated in the Philippines during the Spanish colonial rule. It was a part of a lady's attire during the period and was usually paired with baro't saya or Filipiniana dress.


The word abaniko is from the Spanish abanico (a fan), a diminutive form of the Portuguese abano, and deriving ultimately from the Latin vannus (a winnowing fan), a word related to ventus (the wind).


The abaniko is made of materials like lace or pineapple silk and exquisite woods from native trees. Hand-woven, cut, and scrolled, each abaniko is then adorned with brass and traditionally finished with a delicate silk tassel. During the Spanish colonial rule, the abaniko was considered an expensive object, largely used by people from privileged class who followed highly conservative, Catholic norms that valued modesty and piety. In his novel, Noli Me Tangere, Jose Rizal described it as a modest item always carried by his demure, fictional Maria Clara.[1]

Different Meanings

Various ways of using and holding the abaniko may convey different meanings, particularly during the colonial era. For example, an open abaniko that covers the chest area is a sign of modesty while rapid fan movements express the lady's displeasure.

Abaniko is also the name given to a striking blow, resembling a fanning motion, that is used in the martial art of eskrima.




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