we show the reverse below may surprise, as the fan is seen upside down!
But this is the right way to look at. Indeed, the designer has very
cleverly taken advantage of the relationship between our favorite
object and a part of a globe to imagine the North Pole as the axis of the fan. So he has placed the Arctic Ocean near the gorge, allowing to include
the progress of the expedition of Professor Nordenskiöld, Captain
Palander and the crew of the Vega. The leaf wears also lines giving the indications
of longitude (5, 9, 13, 18, 21°) and the parallels of latitude (50, 60,
70 -? -°) as well.
So we follow fairly well the ship's voyage from Sweden to Japan.
First, we must know what these inscriptions mean. We have shown them to two young Japanese students. They could not read them. It was, literally, Chinese for them! So thank you to any scholar ... (who would be given better photos if needed).
Second, and as often with Japanese fans and some Chinese ones there in a timeless appearance that makes us hesitant in dating the object. Here, it is likely that the fan may well be dated September 15, 1879 ... But was it not rather an artifact made on the occasion of a commemoration of the event?
Third question: What is actually the third flag that we hesitatate to identify, and what specific role may have played in the event the nation whose flags are shown?
Last, but not necessarily incidental, we assume that the initial CN on the obverse of the fan are those of the artist. Who is he/she ?
Already some of you have given answers !!!
About the third flag, Anna Checcoli strengthen my opinion, with a link to pictures :
"Vous avez raison, le drapeau est de Sučde et Norvčge ensemble. Voire ici: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Historical_flags_of_Norway"
Thanks Anna for answering so quickly !
The second answer comes from our son Matthieu...
who has been more clever than his father in browsing the WWW. He has
found that page 191 Vol. II of a book about the Vega
maritime expedition, by Adolf Erik Nordensklöld himself :
Nordensklöld (A.E) & Alexander (L.) -trad.-, The Voyage of the Vega round Asia and Europe Echo Library, 2008
Let us extract the more important sentence (for us) :
dinner was quite European, with a large number of speeches, principally
in European languages, but also in Japanese. Before every guest lay a
map, of the form of a fan, with the course of the Vega marked upon it.
So, in a short time, a big part of the questions we asked has been resolved.
But not all of them: our fan could it be a repeat? What is the meaning
of the terms in Japanese or Chinese along the edge of the leaf?
An what about the C.N.initials?
them, Tom DeLeo, a great connoisseur in food and oriental fans,
spoke of Count Nils. He did it with caution ... and as a mere
suggestion. Will somebody go further?
So thank you for the moment to Anna, Matthew, Tom ... and no doubt, sooner or later to other contributors!
Thank you for your answers to this question and to the other ones ... and for your help in my research !