During victorian times, hand fans allowed ladies to speak without talking. The hand fan was necessary as social etiquette of the times called for a lady not to seek to attract the attentions of a gentleman. The fan language allowed for a secret way around this etiquette rule. It could convey many messages. For example:
hiding one’s eyes behind the fan: I love you.
closely examining a decorated fan: I like you.
touching the fan to the right cheek: Yes.
touching the fan to the left cheek : No.
opening the fan wide: Wait for me.
carrying the open fan in the left hand: Come talk to me.
the number of fan sticks shown: At what hour?
This language wasn’t always graceful and eventually fell out of favor as etiquette rules changed.