[74] Other issues that might arise from foot binding included paralysis and muscular atrophy. Women with such deformed feet avoided placing weight on the front of the foot and tended to walk predominantly on their heels. [58][108], It has been argued that while the practice started out as a fashion, it persisted because it became an expression of Han identity after the Mongols invaded China in 1279, and later the Manchus' conquest in 1644, as it was then practiced only by Han women. [58] They argued that foot binding was an instrumental means to reserve women to handwork, and can be seen as a way by mothers to tie their daughters down, train them in handwork and keep them close at hand. [73] Older women were more likely to break hips and other bones in falls, since they could not balance securely on their feet, and were less able to rise to their feet from a sitting position. The interpretive models used include fashion (the Chinese customs may be compared to examples of Western women's fashion such as corsetry); seclusion (sometimes evaluated as morally superior to the gender mingling in the West); perversion (the practice imposed by men with sexual perversions), inexplicable deformation, child abuse, and extreme cultural traditionalism. Footbinding usually began when girls were between 4 and 6 years old; some were as young as 3, and some as old as 12. [80] The belief that footbinding made women more desirable to men is widely used as an explanation for the spread and persistence of footbinding. [28] Coupled with changes in politics and people's consciousness, the practice of foot binding disappeared in China forever after two generations. In the late 20th century some feminists introduced positive overtones, arguing that it gave women a sense of mastery over their bodies, and pride in their beauty. This tale of a girl who lost her shoe and then married a king who sought the owner of the shoe as only her foot was small enough to fit the shoe contains elements of the European story of Cinderella, and is thought to be one of its antecedents. A 102-year-old is thought to be one of the few remaining women in China who has bound feet. In the story, Pan Yunu, renowned for having delicate feet, performed a dance barefoot on a floor decorated with the design of a golden lotus, after which the Emperor, expressing admiration, said that "lotus springs from her every step!" If you use a walking foot when sewing on quilt binding (or mini-quilt binding), it will keep the top layer of the binding from shifting ahead of the bottom layer, which causes puckers and wonky binding. ", Brown, Melissa J., and Damian Satterthwaite-Phillips. [86] However, historian Patricia Ebrey suggests that this story might be fictitious,[88] and argued that the practice arose so as to emphasize the gender distinction during a period of societal change in the Song dynasty. And thus foot binding became a symbol of chastity and eroticism. [64], The Hakka people however were unusual among Han Chinese in not practicing foot binding at all. Nevertheless, decades elapsed between official abolition and the actual end of foot binding. Each woman's remains showed feet bound with gauze strips measuring 6 feet (1.8 m) in length; Zhou's skeleton, particularly well preserved, showed that her feet fit into the narrow, pointed slippers that were buried with her. [10][11] He observed that "women's footbinding began in recent times; it was not mentioned in any books from previous eras. Footbinding was often classified in Chinese encyclopedia as clothing or a form of bodily embellishment rather than mutilation; one from 1591 for example placed footbinding in a section on "Female Adornments" that included hairdos, powders, and ear-piercings. Various myths and folktales relate to the origin of foot-binding in China. Women with bound feet could not walk and had to totter about. [38] In 1883, Kang Youwei founded the Anti-Footbinding Society near Canton to combat the practice, and anti-footbinding societies sprang up across the country, with membership for the movement claimed to reach 300,000. At each pass around the foot, the binding cloth was tightened, pulling the ball of the foot and the heel together, causing the broken foot to fold at the arch, and pressing the toes underneath the sole. Foot binding, the cruel practice of mutilating the feet of young girls, was once pervasive in turn-of-the-century China, where it was seen as a sign of wealth and marriage eligibility. [29][59] Some working women in Jiangsu made a pretense of binding while keeping their feet natural. A number of attempts were made throughout history to end the practice. During 10th or 11th century, the practice of foot binding was started by the upper-class court dancers. So, foot binding was a way for families to … Generally, it was a practice for females. {Editorial note: modern Chinese footwear has been likened to “modern foot-binding” and can … [38], Immediately after this procedure, the girl's broken toes were folded back under and the feet were rebound. Even after the foot bones had healed, they were prone to re-breaking repeatedly, especially when the girl was in her teenage years and her feet were still soft. 10 Best Nonfiction Books of the Last Decade. Women with the ideal foot size were very desirable for marriage. Customized by A Sacred Journey, {This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Thought to have begun late in the Tang Dynasty (618-960), the practice of foot binding accelerated during the Song Dynasty (960-1297) and lasted over a thousand years. If you want to know more the history of foot binding, you can check the below post: Facts about Chinese Foot Binding 1: the origin of foot binding. It has been estimated that by the 19th century, 40–50% of all Chinese women may have had bound feet, rising to almost 100% in upper-class Chinese women.[1]. [87] It was claimed by Lin Yutang among others, probably based on an oral tradition, that Zhu Xi also promoted footbinding in Fujian as a way of encouraging chastity among women, that by restricting their movement it would help keep men and women separate. [111] These depictions are sometimes based on observation or research and sometimes on rumors or supposition. Foot binding resulted in the forward curvature of the lumbar vertebrae as a result of a woman struggling to balance and walk properly. [96] During the Qing dynasty, attempts were made by the Manchus to ban the practice but failed, and it has been argued the attempts at banning may have in fact led to a spread of the practice among Han Chinese in the 17th and 18th centuries. Footbinding was first banned in 1912, but some continued binding their feet in secret. One of these involves the story of Pan Yunu, a favourite consort of the Southern Qi Emperor Xiao Baojuan. When the young girls had foot binding, they would experience a painful feeling during the process. Foot binding eventually spread to most social classes by the Qing dynasty, with the practice only ceasing to exist in the early 20th century. Women, their families and their husbands took great pride in tiny feet, with the ideal length, called the "Golden Lotus", being about 3 Chinese inches (寸) long, around 11 centimetres (4 in) in Western measurement. [81], An erotic effect of the bound feet was the lotus gait, the tiny steps and swaying walk of a woman whose feet had been bound. Sometimes the accounts seem intended to rouse like-minded Chinese and foreign opinion to abolish the custom, and sometimes the accounts imply condescension or contempt for China. Jo Farrell speaks to Kristie Lu Stout about her mission to document China's last surviving women with bound feet. That's mainly because the rich had servants to serve them since they couldn't walk. Foot binding – a widespread custom in China that lasted for more than a 1,000 years – involved incredibly tight cloth bindings being applied to the feet of young girls to stifle growth. If you are sensitive or squeamish, you may find this difficult to read. [27] Women with bound feet who wore handmade shoes would also show that she was good at her craft. [25][26] This pride was reflected in the elegantly embroidered silk slippers and wrappings girls and women wore to cover their feet; these shoes also served as support, as some women with bound feet might not have been able to walk without the support of their shoes, and thus would have been severely limited in their mobility. The manner of walking that foot binding necessitated was comprised of miniscule, mincing steps to avoid toppling over––a practice that ultimately tightened the pelvic muscles and inner thighs. Université de Lausanne, Faculté des lettres, 2017), Shepherd, John R. "The Qing, the Manchus, and Footbinding: Sources and Assumptions under Scrutiny.". The Virtual Museum of The City of San Francisco, This page was last edited on 21 December 2020, at 11:57. [46] Local warlords such as Yan Xishan in Shanxi engaged in their own sustained campaign against foot binding with feet inspectors and fines for those who continued with the practice,[45] while regional governments of the later Nanjing regime also enforced the ban. The bandages were repeatedly wound in a figure-eight movement, starting at the inside of the foot at the instep, then carried over the toes, under the foot, and around the heel, the freshly broken toes being pressed tightly into the sole of the foot. The desirability varies with the size of the feet – the perfect bound feet and the most desirable (called "golden lotuses") would be around 3 Chinese inches (around 4 inches (10 cm) in Western measurement) or smaller, while those larger may be called "silver lotuses" (4 Chinese inches) or "iron lotuses" (5 Chinese inches or larger and the least desirable for marriage). These "flower bowl" (花盆鞋) or "horse-hoof" shoes (馬蹄鞋) have a platform generally made of wood two to six inches in height and fitted to the middle of the sole, or they have a small central tapered pedestal. The tightness of the binding meant that the circulation in the feet was faulty, and the circulation to the toes was almost cut off, so any injuries to the toes were unlikely to heal and were likely to gradually worsen and lead to infected toes and rotting flesh. By the 19th century, it was estimated that 40–50% of Chinese women had bound feet, and among upper class Han Chinese women, the figure was almost 100%. Bones in the girls' feet would often be deliberately broken again in order to further change the size or shape of the feet. The foot binding process was long, excruciatingly painful and pretty gross. [14][15], At the end of the Song dynasty, men would drink from a special shoe whose heel contained a small cup. [106] It is a great significance in the development history of Chinese feminism. [47] In a region south of Beijing, Dingxian, where over 99% of women were once bound, no new cases were found among those born after 1919. Women with bound feet in one village in Yunnan Province even formed a regional dance troupe to perform for tourists in the late 20th century, though age has since forced the group to retire. All rights go to the respectful owners. Rich girls would have their feet bound while the poor would not. [100][101][102] Bound feet rendered women dependent on their families, particularly the men, as they became largely restricted to their homes. [34], In the Song Dynasty, the status of women declined,[34] and a common argument is that the decline was the result of the revival of Confucianism as Neo-Confucianism during the Song dynasty, and that in addition to promoting the seclusion of women and the cult of widow chastity, it also contributed to the development of footbinding. Jan 17, 2015 - Explore Cindy Lee's board "History of Foot Binding" on Pinterest. The girl's broken feet required a great deal of care and attention, and they would be unbound regularly. [2] Li Yu created a 6 feet (1.8 m) tall golden lotus decorated with precious stones and pearls, and asked his concubine Yao Niang (窅娘) to bind her feet in white silk into the shape of the crescent moon and perform a dance on the points of her feet on the lotus. Foot binding, which aims to make a woman’s feet look tiny and therefore desirable, was practiced in China for centuries before it was banned in 1912 at the fall of the last imperial dynasty. This practice was called "toast to the golden lotus" and lasted until the late Qing dynasty. The binding of feet, if done properly, was started when the girl was five or six years old. It’s hard to know where to begin with a topic as painful and emotionally-charged as foot binding. It was considered preferable to have someone other than the mother do it, as she might have been sympathetic to her daughter's pain and less willing to keep the bindings tight.[69]. [95] The practice was also carried out only by women on girls, and it served to emphasize the distinction between male and female, an emphasis that began from an early age. Cotton bandages, 3 m long and 5 cm wide (10 ft by 2 in), were prepared by soaking them in the blood and herb mixture. [50] The practice lingered on in some regions in China; in 1928, a census in rural Shanxi found that 18% of women had bound feet,[29] while in some remote rural areas such as Yunnan Province it continued to be practiced until the 1950s. In 1664, the Manchu Kangxi Emperor attempted to ban foot binding, but failed in doing so. It was believed that this difficulty walking caused the women to use more muscles in their inner thighs, hips, and pelvic regions. 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