The folding fan was invented in Japan around the 6th to 8th century. It was a court fan called the Akomeogi after the court women's dress named Akome. According to the Song Sui (History of Song 宋史), a Japanese monk Chonen offered the folding fans (twenty wooden-bladed fans hiogi (桧扇) and two paper fans kawahori-ogi (蝙蝠扇) to the emperor of China in 988. Later in 11th century, Korean envoys brought along Korean folding fans which were of Japanese origin as gifts to Chinese court.
In China, the folding fan came into fashion during the Ming dynasty between the years of 1368 and 1644, and Hangzhou was a center of folding fan production. The Mai Ogi (or Chinese dancing fan) has ten sticks and a thick paper mount showing the family crest. Chinese painters crafted many fan decoration designs. The slats, of ivory, bone, mica, mother of pearl, sandalwood, or tortoise shell, were carved and covered with paper or fabric.
Folding fans continue to be important cultural symbols and popular tourist souvenirs in East Asia. Geisha of all types (but maiko most often) use folding fans in their fan dances as well.
The two general categories of hand fans:
1. Flat fans(平扇): circular fans, palm-leaf fans, straw fans, feather fans, etc.
2. Folding fans(折扇): silk folding fans, paper folding fans, sandalwood fans, etc.