The Legend A dancer of Prince Li Yu wrapped her feet in tight, colorful, ribbons so her dance would be more graceful. Her name was Yao Naing and it was said that when she danced it was so graceful that it seemed like she was “skimming over the top of golden lilies” After this, the “lily footed women” became a model for China. Other legends say that her bound feet looked like a beautiful golden lotus.
How did foot binding become popular? Foot binding began around the year 960 during the Sung Dynasty and gradually gained popularity. It started with royalty, then moved to the wealthy, and eventually even commoners were binding their feet. In the 1600’s the Qing Dynasty tried to stop foot binding but it was too popular.
The Process Foot binding was done to make the foot smaller and skinnier so it would look like lotus flower. The goal was for women to get their feet only 3 inches long.
The Process Foot binding usually began around the ages of 4-7 because the feet are not fully developed and are still soft. The foot would be gently massaged and then soaked in hot water to soften the bone tissue. Before the toes were broken the toenails would be clipped very short.
The Process The four little toes would be broken and pushed under the bottom of the foot. The toes would be held in place by wrapping a 10 ft. long bandage around the foot. Every two days the bandages had to be removed so the feet could be massaged and washed to avoid infections. This was the mothers job The arch, or middle, of the foot would also be broken and pulled straight with the leg.
The Process Over time the bandages would be pulled tighter and tighter and the women would be given smaller and smaller shoes. The women or girls would often be forced to walk long distances so they would become used to the little feet. The process took two years to complete, but bandages had to be used for the next ten years to make sure the foot stayed in place. Often women would wear the bandages their whole life.
Why did women bind their feet? Women bound their feet because it was a sign of beauty. Often men would not marry a women if her feet were not bound. Men thought the way women with bound feet walked was appealing. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDRa1LjluHM http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDRa1LjluHM During the Sung Dynasty women lost many of their freedoms and men saw foot binding as a way to control women. By binding their feet women couldn’t have a social life and had to stay at home. It was a sign of wealth because it showed the wife did not have to work.
Foot binding was outlawed when after the sun Yat- Sen revolution in 1911 Women were no longer allowed to have their feet bound and younger women with bound feet were forced to remove their bandages. Officials would come around to make sure women were no longer using the bandages and if they were still wearing them they could be fined. Older women were allowed to keep their bandages on. Even after it was banned many women continued to secretly bind their feet. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_FYM2Y4AR4