Fig. 4: Punkah fan or Va-mouche, cypress and parchment, ca. 1790, originally from Tibot Plantation, New Roads, Louisiana. H. 42, W. 36 in. A punkah (from the Hindi word pankha meaning hand fan) is a ceiling-mounted fan operated by slaves in southern antebellum homes. For more information see the scholarship of Dana E. Byrd in World of a Slave: Encyclopedia of the Material Life of Slaves in the United States. Photography by Terry Thibeau.