Bless me a sinner with a hug, Rev. Protodeacon
Yes, the ripidia were descended from the Imperial practices of the Emperors of Constantinople.
To honour someone was to keep common flies off of them by waving a fan or what came to be the ripidia, used by slaves or servants, as the sovereigns progressed through the streets lifted on high.
In fact, the Cherubic Hymn in the Liturgy is actually a form of imperial praise given to the emperor as he was carried on top of shields following a military victory, as you know.
In the Ethiopian and Coptic Churches, it was common to cover one's mouth with a handkerchief when praying and when addressing a sovereign or prince as a sign of respect. Ethiopians still carry such handkerchiefs with them usually for liturgical purposes if they are asked to carry anything sacred in Church or their hand cross etc.
The gentle breeze of the ripidia is sometimes said to represent the Holy Spirit as well.
Again imploring your hug, I am sincerely yours,