Foot binding

Some early evidence for it comes from the tomb of Lady Huang Sheng, the wife of an imperial clansman, who died in Snow Flower and the Secret Fan: Women wanted ever-smaller, more curved feet, and so the foot binding process was created to achieve highly arched, 3-inch 7.

Shangguan began her life under unfortunate circumstances.

Last living Chinese women with bound feet pictured

Inthe first Shunzhi emperor mandated that foot binding be banned, but his successor, the Kangxi emperor, revoked the ban, apparently deciding that the practice was too firmly rooted in custom. They had distinguished themselves in their own right—not as voices behind the throne, or muses to inspire others, but as self-directed agents.

Manchu women were forbidden from binding their feet or the feet of their daughters. Educated Chinese began to understand that foot binding made them appear barbaric to foreigners, social Darwinists argued that it Foot binding the nation for enfeebled women inevitably produced weak sonsand feminists attacked it because it caused women to suffer.

Foot binding

Reform-minded Chinese intellectuals began to consider footbinding to be an aspect of their culture that needed to be eliminated. Inafter the fall of the Qing Dynastythe new Republic of China government banned foot binding; women were told to unwrap their feet lest they be killed.

Also, a woman with bound feet was less capable of fleeing an unhappy marriage. Women with such deformed feet avoided placing weight on the front of the foot and tended to walk predominantly on their heels.

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.

When a young girl was between three and eight years old, her feet were wrapped tightly with long strips of cloth that pressed the four small toes down around and under the balls of her feet. A 3-inch foot seems an impossibility. Facts on File, See more pictures of China.

Women with bound feet wore special tiny shoes decorated with beautiful embroidery. Instead they wore "flower bowl" shoes, which gave the illusion of tiny feet. A woman with bound feet could not walk normally and had to be supported while walking and even while standing. The girls were forced to walk long distances in order to hasten the breaking of their arches.

How Foot Binding Worked

Furthermore, it is argued that Confucianism institutionalized the family system in which women are called upon to sacrifice themselves for the good of the family, a system that fostered such practice. University of Minnesota Press, Another story suggests that the last empress of the Shang dynasty had a club foot, and to hide her embarrassment, persuaded her husband to make the compression of the feet obligatory for young girls.

During the bloody clashes that erupted between the factions, Shangguan was dragged from her house and beheaded.

Initially it was a common practice only in the wealthiest parts of China, particularly in areas around northern China. A small foot in China, no different from a tiny waist in Victorian England, represented the height of female refinement.When a girl was between the ages of three and eight years old, the four small toes on each foot were folded over and bound tightly with long bandages, which were re-wrapped every one or two days.


The pressure of the bandages caused the bones to break and force the arch upward into a form referred to. The process of binding feet (also known as "lotus feet") started before the arch had a chance to fully develop – somewhere between the ages of 4 and 9. After soaking in warm herbs and animal.

Foot binding was the custom of applying tight binding to the feet of young girls to deform the shape of their feet.

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It was practiced in China from the Song dynasty until the early 20th century, and bound feet were considered a status symbol as well as a mark of beauty.

Foot binding limited the mobility of women, and resulted in lifelong disabilities for most. Watch video · More than years after the centuries-old practice of foot binding was banned in China, these are some of the last living women who were subjected to the practice as children.

Why Footbinding Persisted in China for a Millennium

These changes can be illustrated by the practice of female foot-binding. Some early evidence for it comes from the tomb of Lady Huang Sheng, the wife of an imperial clansman, who died in Foot-binding was a practice first carried out on young girls in Tang Dynasty China to restrict their normal growth and make their feet as small as possible.

Considered an attractive quality, the effects of the process were painful and permanent. Widely used as a method to distinguish girls of the.

Foot binding
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