Nüshu script is an ancient form of simplified Chinese that illiterate women used to communicate with each other in the early nineteenth century in the Provence of Hunan. The literal translation of the word Nüshu is "Women's writing".
The intricate characters of this phonetic language were woven painstakingly into hand fans which were then beautifully decorated and sent from one house to another as a way of communication. This enabled secret messages to be passed at a time when women were incapacitated with bound feet and deprived of the freedom to move around independently.
Nüshu script and the secret language of hand fans is an example of the ingenuity that develops when people are repressed, and shows us how historically, textile design has been used as a means of communication.
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