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The sticks are often plain ivory or tortoiseshell, sometimes inlaid with gold or silver pique work.The way the sticks sit close to each other, often with little or no space between them is one of the distinguishing characteristics of fans of this era. This caused large scale immigration from France to the surrounding Protestant countries (such as England) of many fan craftsman.However, despite the relative crude methods of construction folding fans were at this era high status, exotic items on par with elaborate gloves as gifts to royalty.

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Those folding fans of the 15th century found in museums today have either leather leaves with cut out designs forming a lace-like design or a more rigid leaf with inlays of more exotic materials like mica.

Christian Europe's earliest fan was the flabellum (or ceremonial fan), which dates to the 6th century.

This was used during services to drive insects away from the consecrated bread and wine.

Simpler fans were developed in China, Greece, and Egypt.

Japanese fans (and Chinese imports) became popular in Europe.