This feather fan might be considered both decorative and functional, as its intricate handiwork in no way interferes with its innate functionality. In addition, it possibly could have served as a symbol denoting the bearer's status within the community, as it could be carried as a token of rank or standing.
As a functional object it could be waved to provide a cooling breeze; it may also be used to ward off flying insects. It could be decoration for the home, or a portable accoutrement to an outfit of clothing. It could be carried as a personal talisman or an indicator or rank or standing.
Decorative and design elements of its construction seem to indicate an origin in Africa, which is where Dr. Turner likely acquired it during his studies there in 1951-1952.