Portable fans have been around for thousands of years, with different cultures around the world each producing their own version. The folding fan is most common today and was invented around the eighth century in Japan, according to Isla Hendry, curator of the Fan Museum in London. Folding fans were not brought to Europe until the 16th century. “They come first through Italy, and then, they were popularized by Catherine de’ Medici,” explains Hendry, adding that later France, Spain and Great Britain also adopted the annex. But there was also evidence that fans were in use in multiple civilizations across Africa, South America, and North America before the colonial period.