Presentation on theme: "Foot binding in China The Lotus Slipper. The barbaric practice of footbinding in China began in the 10th century sometime during the Tang Dynasty (618-"— Presentation transcript:
The barbaric practice of footbinding in China began in the 10th century sometime during the Tang Dynasty (618- 907)and ended over a thousand years later. Footbinding was practiced on young girls usually six years of age and younger. Feet were wrapped in tight bandages and broken so they couldnt grow. Footbinding was generally practiced by wealthy families, as only wealthy families could afford to have the women of the house not at work. It was a sign of prestige, beauty and wealth.Tang Dynasty
The ideal foot was three inches in length. Three inch feet were called golden lotuses. Feet that were between three and four inches in length were called silver lotuses.
A Daughter of Han: The Autobiography of a Chinese Working Woman by Ida Pruitt From the Story Told Her by Ning Lao T'ai-t'ai (Stanford CA: Stanford UP.  1990. P. 22): "They did not begin to bind my feet until I was seven because I loved so much to run and play. Then I became very ill and they had to take the bindings off my feet again. I had the 'heavenly blossoms' and was ill for two years and my face is very pockmarked. In my childhood everyone had the illness and few escaped some marking. When I was nine they started to bind my feet again and they had to draw the bindings tighter than usual. My feet hurt so much that for two years I had to crawl on my hands and knees. Sometimes at night they hurt so much I could not sleep. I stuck my feet under my mother and she lay on them so they hurt less and I could sleep. But by the time I was eleven my feet did not hurt and by the time I was thirteen they were finished. The toes were turned under so that I could see them on the inner and under side of the foot. They had come up around. Two fingers could be inserted in the cleft between the front of the foot and the heel. My feet were very small indeed. A girl's beauty and desirability were counted more by the size of her feet than by the beauty of her face. Matchmakers were not asked, 'Is she beautiful?' but 'How small are her feet?' A plain face is given by heaven but poorly bound feet are a sign of laziness. My feet were very small indeed. Not like they are now. When I worked so hard and was on my feet all day I slept with the bandages off because my feet ached, and so they spread."
Footbinding was associated with another important role of Chinese women, domestic production of textiles, and the making of shoes. Social customs of exchanging shoes with female relatives and female in-laws are reflected in shoes with elaborately embroidered decorative patterns, not only on the sides but also on the soles. Colors and styles tell us much about the women who made and wore the shoes with pride. Some indicate regional styles and many bear Buddhist symbols for longevity and wisdom. Shoes for special occasions include mourning shoes and wedding shoes, and women also made accessories such as leggings, anklets and leg sashes.
The Manchus did not bind the feet of their women, and so, after their conquest of China in 1644, they tried to outlaw the long- standing Chinese practice. They were unsuccessful. In fact,so powerful was the aesthetic appeal of the bound foot that Manchu women began to wear extensions to their shoes (below), which appeared below the hemline and created the illusion of bound feet
In 1912, the Chinese government ordered the cessation of footbinding. Women were ordered to unwrap their feet. Failure to do so resulted in heavy fines and in some cases, death. When the Communists came into power in 1949, they too ordered a nation wide ban on footbinding. This was especially devastating to women with bound feet because most of them were forced to perform hard physical labor in the 1950s. Older women with bound feet are finding it increasing difficult to find shoes today.
The more things change… Yves Saint Laurent 2004 Fall Collection Lotus Pump Taiwanese 20 th Century Lotus Shoe
Special thanks to: Professor Richard J. Smith of Rice University Additional images selected were from various photos taken during the Fulbright Teachers visit in July of 2004 and from: http://globetrotteri.wordpress.com/ 2007/07/11/suffering-for-beauty-graphic -photos-of-chinese-footbinding/ BOUND TO BE BEAUTIFUL - Foot Binding in Ancient China http://mcclungmuseum.utk.edu/newarchives/footbinding/index.html