We all know for what purpose fans are used but there is a kind of fan in Japan that is primarily a signaling device. It is actually a fan designed for warfare. It can also be used as a weapon and it is called thew war fan.
There are three basic types of war fans consisting of the gunsen, tessen, and the gunbai. The gunsen fan is a folding fan usually seen hanging from a warrior’s breastplate. The tessen is often used as a throwing weapon and an effective means of fending darts and arrows. The gunbai is quite flexible even in its stationary form of being a large and solid fan.
It could be easy to imagine how wars can provide a semblance of art with the use of war fans. Instead of swift confrontation, the use of the Japanese war fan requires observing rituals, practices, and protocols. Commands can be given to soldiers through the use of war fans which in turn can be passed on to other participants.
The use of the Japanese war fan lends a degree of nobility to an otherwise dreadful activity. The use of the tessen is even considered lethal since it is considered quite a weapon in the hands of a real fighter. Many families preserve their war fans to be of use to others. To many however, they preserve theirs as historic specimens which can be brought out time and again for study and comparison. Japanese war fans are considered defense weapons by the samurai which are easily concealed.