About the project

The Punkah Project is a research repository for the history of punkahs, ceiling-mounted dining room fans manipulated by enslaved workers in the antebellum United States. The punkah was used by elite planters to display their wealth and refinement, while those consigned to labor at the fans using their proximity to elite whites to glean information about the plantation world and beyond. Part decorative art, part architectural element and part utilitarian device, punkahs appear only in passing within the historical record. The entries are, The Punkah project drawn from archives, secondary sources, and fieldwork on punkahs in order to preserve, and map the history of these dynamic objects in the United States. We welcome scholarly contributions and feedback. [read more...]