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]. Generally, it was a practice for females. {Editorial note: modern Chinese footwear has been likened to “modern foot-binding” and can … Foot-binding, due to its crippling effects, caused women to walk in shorter, more controlled steps. I do not know what use this is. During the Yuan dynasty, some would also drink directly from the shoe itself. Sadly, it’s estimated that up to 10 percent of girls died in the process of foot binding. 3. [35][43] In 1902, the Cixi issued an anti-foot binding edict, but it was soon rescinded. [30][31] The rebellion, however failed, and Christian missionaries, who had provided education for girls and actively discouraged what they considered a barbaric practice, then played a part in changing elite opinion on footbinding through education, pamphleteering, and lobbying of the Qing court,[32][33] placing emphasis on the fact that no other culture in the world practiced the custom of foot binding. The necrosis of the flesh would also initially give off a foul odor, and later the smell may come from various microorganisms that colonized the folds. Foot binding was outlawed in China 103 years ago, following almost 10 decades of the practice. [91][92] Modern Confucian scholars such as Tu Weiming also dispute any causal link between neo-Confucianism and footbinding. 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. This was especially the case with the toes, as small toes were especially desirable. Foot binding, or ‘lotus feet’, stands as a symbol of a bygone China. For example, they assume that the practice represented a woman's individual freedom to enjoy sexuality, despite lack of evidence. Women with the ideal foot size were very desirable for marriage. ", Brown, Melissa J. et al., “Marriage Mobility and Footbinding in Pre-1949 Rural China: A Reconsideration of Gender, Economics, and Meaning in Social Causation. Foot-binding reduced these points to only the big toe and heel bone; the arch was shoved up to make the foot shorter, and the other toes were bent under the ball. They also became an avenue for poorer women to marry up in some areas; for example, in Sichuan. Foot binding began among the Han people. [68], The process was started before the arch of the foot had a chance to develop fully, usually between the ages of 4 and 9. The ideal bound foot was 3 inches long, the shape of a crescent moon, and covered by a tiny embroidered shoe. The broken toes were held tightly against the sole of the foot while the foot was then drawn down straight with the leg and the arch of the foot was forcibly broken. [72], At the beginning of the binding, many of the foot bones would remain broken, often for years. [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. Over the centuries foot binding was practiced by many elite families and later became widespread among all social levels. [79] Therefore, people had greater expectations for foot-binding brides. Foot binding lasted over 1,000 years in China and … 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. [84] The psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud considered footbinding to be a "perversion that corresponds to foot fetishism",[85] and that it appeased male castration anxiety. The most common problem with bound feet was infection. This story may have given rise to the terms "golden lotus" or "lotus feet" used to describe bound feet; there is, however, no evidence that Consort Pan ever bound her feet. [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. [93] It has been noted that Confucian doctrine in fact prohibits mutilation of the body as people should not "injure even the hair and skin of the body received from mother and father". 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. According to Ko, the perception of footbinding as a civilised practice may be evinced from a Ming dynasty account that mentioned a proposal to "entice [the barbarians] to civilize their customs" by encouraging footbinding among their womenfolk. [14][15], At the end of the Song dynasty, men would drink from a special shoe whose heel contained a small cup. [18] The practice, however, was encouraged by the Mongol rulers on their Chinese subjects. This muscular training was believed to prepare women for ideal lovemaking, thus, foot binding was upheld as a beautifying practice due to its perceived lurid implications. [82] Howard Levy however suggests that the barely revealed bound foot may also only function as an initial tease. During 10th or 11th century, the practice of foot binding was started by the upper-class court dancers. [98][99] It is also widely seen as a form of violence against women. [19] However, few Han Chinese complied with the edicts and Kangxi eventually abandoned the effort in 1668. The girl's broken feet required a great deal of care and attention, and they would be unbound regularly. Mei Ching Liu, "Women and the Media in China: An Historical Perspective". Foot binding has caused a lot of deaths. [2] In the later 19th century, Chinese reformers also challenged the practice; however, it was not until the early 20th century that the practice of foot binding began to die out, following the efforts of anti-foot binding campaigners and campaigns. [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. [111] These depictions are sometimes based on observation or research and sometimes on rumors or supposition. [108][109] Foot binding were common when women could do light industry, but where women were required to do heavy farm work they often did not bind their feet because it hindered physical work. [55][56] In 1999, the last shoe factory making lotus shoes, the Zhiqiang Shoe Factory in Harbin, closed. Another key function of foot-binding was that it was not convenient for women with bound feet to walk, thus it helped reduce the chance for women to betray their marriage through restricting their daily walking and freedom. [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. [40] At the turn of the 20th century, early feminists, such as Qiu Jin, called for the end of foot binding. [90] The Neo-Confucian Cheng Yi was said to be against footbinding and his family and descendants did not bind their feet. [69] Walking on bound feet necessitated bending the knees slightly and swaying to maintain proper movement and balance, a dainty walk that was also considered to be erotically attractive to some men. [63], Manchu women, as well as Mongol and Chinese women in the Eight Banners, did not bind their feet, and the most a Manchu woman might do was to wrap the feet tightly to give them a slender appearance. Various myths and folktales relate to the origin of foot-binding in China. [83] Some men found the smell of the bound feet attractive, and some also apparently believed that bound feet would cause layers of folds to develop in the vagina, and that the thighs would become sensuously heavier and the vagina tighter. Mechanization resulted in women who worked at home facing a crisis. See more ideas about history, chinese women, chinese history. [103] Thus, the practice ensured that women were much more reliant on their husbands. 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!" [64] The Manchus, wanting to emulate the particular gait that bound feet necessitated, adapted their own form of platform shoes to cause them to walk in a similar swaying manner. [32] Not all women were always bound—some women once bound remained bound all through their lives, but some were only briefly bound, and some were bound only until their marriage. Feet altered by foot binding were known as lotus feet, and the shoes made for these feet were known as lotus shoes. Many Han Chinese in the Inner City of Beijing also did not bind their feet, and it was reported in the mid-1800s that around 50-60% of non-banner women had unbound feet. Footbinding was first banned in 1912, but some continued binding their feet in secret. These scholars argued that the coming of the mechanized industry at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, such as the introduction of industrial textile processes, resulted in a loss of light handwork for women, removing a reason to maintain the practice. It was believed that this difficulty walking caused the women to use more muscles in their inner thighs, hips, and pelvic regions. She can't even walk which is the worst part of all. [51][52] In most parts of China, however, the practice had virtually disappeared by 1949. [34], The earliest-known Western anti-foot binding society, Jie Chan Zu Hui (截纏足会), was formed in Xiamen in 1874 by 60-70 women in meeting presided over by a missionary named John MacGowan. By the Ming period, the practice was no longer the preserve of the gentry, and had instead become considered a status symbol. [81], Some also considered bound feet to be intensely erotic, and Qing Dynasty sex manuals listed 48 different ways of playing with women's bound feet. Even if mothers could have objected to putting their daughters through such a tremendously painful process, social pressure likely made them willing practitioners of foot binding. If you are sensitive or squeamish, you may find this difficult to read. [32] The campaign against foot binding was very successful in some regions; in one province, a 1929 survey showed that whereas only 2.3% of girls born before 1910 had unbound feet, 95% of those born after were not bound. introduced positive overtones, arguing that it gave women a sense of mastery over their bodies, and pride in their beauty. Women with bound feet could not walk and had to totter about. [4] The binding of feet was then replicated by other upper-class women, and the practice spread. [19][20][21] As foot binding restricted the movement of a woman, one side effect of its rising popularity was the corresponding decline of the art of women's dance in China, and it became increasingly rare to hear about beauties and courtesans who were also great dancers after the Song era.[22][23]. [47] The practice was also stigmatized in Communist China, and the last vestiges of foot binding were stamped out, with the last new case of foot binding reported in 1957. The body and labor of unmarried daughters belonged to their parents, thereby the boundaries between work and kinship for women are blurred. "Foot binding in a Ming dynasty cemetery near Xi’an, China. "[9][12][13], The earliest archaeological evidence for foot binding dates to the tombs of Huang Sheng, who died in 1243 at the age of 17, and Madame Zhou, who died in 1274. [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. Having bound feet shifted the burden of weight to the lower body which put pressure on the pelvis and led to pelvic pain. [107], Some scholars such as Laurel Bossen and Hill Gates reject the notion that bound feet in China were considered more beautiful, or that it was a means of male control over women, a sign of class status, or a chance for women to marry well (in general, bound women did not improve their class position by marriage). The binding of feet, if done properly, was started when the girl was five or six years old. I do not own this song or any of the pictures. A number of attempts were made throughout history to end the practice. [60] Footbinding was most common among women whose work involved domestic crafts and those in urban areas;[32] it was also more common in northern China where it was widely practiced by women of all social classes, but less so in parts of southern China such as Guangdong and Guangxi where it was largely a practice of women in the provincial capitals or among the gentry. Legend says that foot binding began in Shang times. 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. [10][11] He observed that "women's footbinding began in recent times; it was not mentioned in any books from previous eras. Girls whose toes were more fleshy would sometimes have shards of glass or pieces of broken tiles inserted within the binding next to her feet and between her toes to cause injury and introduce infection deliberately. Having possibly originated among upper-class court dancers during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period in 10th century China, the practice of foot binding gradually became popular among the Chinese elite during the Song dynasty. (歩歩生蓮), a reference to the Buddhist legend of Padmavati, under whose feet lotus springs forth. [57], Foot binding was practiced in various forms and its prevalence varied in different regions. [48][49] In Taiwan, the practice was also discouraged by the ruling Japanese from the beginning of Japanese rule, and from 1911 to 1915 it was gradually made illegal. The feet were bound by yards of cloth that would not stretch. (Diss. Customized by A Sacred Journey, {This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. [61][62] Foot binding limited the mobility of girls, so they became engaged in manual labor since childhood. However, once a foot had been crushed and bound, attempting to reverse the process by unbinding was painful,[70] and the shape could not be reversed without a woman undergoing the same pain all over again. 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. [16], The first European to mention footbinding was the Italian missionary Odoric of Pordenone in the 14th century, during the Yuan dynasty. [75] (AFP/Getty Images (AFP/Getty Images) ", Brown, Melissa J., and Damian Satterthwaite-Phillips. Sewing straps with a walking foot. To start the process, the foot was extended at the ankle, and the fleshy part of the heel was pushed down and forward under the foot. [41][42] Many members of anti-footbinding groups pledged to not bind their daughters' feet nor to allow their sons to marry women with bound feet. [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. [5], Some of the earliest possible references to foot binding appear around 1100, when a couple of poems seemed to allude to the practice. [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. [28] Coupled with changes in politics and people's consciousness, the practice of foot binding disappeared in China forever after two generations. [53][54] By the 21st century, only a few elderly women in China still had bound feet. Foot binding was practiced by the Hui Muslims in Gansu Province,[66] the Dungan Muslims, descendants of Hui from northwestern China who fled to central Asia, were also seen practicing foot binding up to 1948. [105][42] The ending of the practice is seen as a significant event in the process of female emancipation in China. It was normal for centuries, until being finally outlawed in 1911. [65] Most non-Han Chinese people, such as the Manchus, Mongols and Tibetans, did not bind their feet; however, some non-Han ethnic groups did. The binding was pulled so tightly that the girl could not move her toes at all and the ends of the binding cloth were then sewn so that the girl could not loosen it. Sewing on quilt binding. "[9] In the 13th century, scholar Che Ruoshui [zh] wrote the first known criticism of the practice: "Little girls not yet four or five years old, who have done nothing wrong, nevertheless are made to suffer unlimited pain to bind [their feet] small. [29][59] Some working women in Jiangsu made a pretense of binding while keeping their feet natural. Each time the feet were unbound, they were washed, the toes carefully checked for injury, and the nails carefully and meticulously trimmed. Because having bound feet was a sign of sophistication and being upper-class, women without bound feet had little chance of marrying into nobility. Foot binding is believed to be spread from elite women to civilian women, and there are large differences in each region. "Economic correlates of footbinding: Implications for the importance of Chinese daughters’ labor. 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. "Ambivalent Orientalism: Footbinding in Chinese American History, Culture and Literature". Sorry, your blog cannot share posts by email. 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. The four smaller toes were tucked underneath, pulled toward the heel, and … Bones in the girls' feet would often be deliberately broken again in order to further change the size or shape of the feet. Foot binding is often seen by feminists as an oppressive practice against women who were victims of a sexist culture. The foot was then carefully wound up with the material. Patricia Ebrey, "Gender and Sinology: Shifting Western Interpretations of Footbinding, 1300–1890", "Painful Memories for China's Footbinding Survivors", "Marriage Mobility and Footbinding in Pre-1949 Rural China: A Reconsideration of Gender, Economics, and Meaning in Social Causation", "China's "Golden Lotus Feet" - Foot-binding Practice", "Feet and Fabrication: Footbinding and Early Twentieth-Century Rural Women's Labor in Shaanxi", "Bound by History: The Last of China's 'Lotus-Feet' Ladies", "Ending Footbinding and Infibulation: A Convention Account", "The Tian Zu Hui (Natural Foot Society): Christian Women in China and the Fight against Footbinding", "1907: Qiu Jin, Chinese feminist and revolutionary", "The Art of Social Change: Campaigns against foot-binding and genital mutilation", Bodies under Siege: Self-mutilation, Nonsuicidal Self-injury, and Body Modification in Culture and Psychiatry, "In China, foot binding slowly slips into history", "Unbound: China's last 'lotus feet' – in pictures", "Traveling Across China to Tell the Story of a Generation of Women With Bound Feet", "Footloose in Fujian: Economic Correlates of Footbinding", "Consequences of foot binding among older women in Beijing, China", "Asian Origins of Cinderella: The Zhuang Storyteller of Guangxi", "Sociocultural Epistasis and Cultural Exaptation in Footbinding, Marriage Form, and Religious Practices in Early 20th-Century Taiwan", "Why Chinese Neo-Confucian Women Made a Fetish of Small Feet", "Foot-Binding in Neo-Confucian China and the Appropriation of Female Labor", "The Body as Attire: The Shifting Meanings of Footbinding in Seventeenth-Century China", "Revisiting Footbinding: The Evolution of the Body as Method in Modern Chinese History", "Children's Book Review: Ties That Bind, Ties That Break by Lensey Namioka", https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Foot_binding&oldid=995505930, Short description is different from Wikidata, Articles containing Chinese-language text, Articles containing potentially dated statements from 2007, All articles containing potentially dated statements, All articles with specifically marked weasel-worded phrases, Articles with specifically marked weasel-worded phrases from November 2020, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, Berger, Elizabeth, Liping Yang, and Wa Ye. Feet altered by foot binding were known as lotus feet, and the shoes made for these feet were known as lotus shoes. It is thought that as many as 10% of girls may have died from gangrene and other infections due to footbinding. Whenever it started, it was a barbaric practice. Young girls, between the age of 5-7, had their toes tucked under their feet, and then had their feet wrapped in long pieces of cloth to hold their toes in place. It has been estimated that by the 19th century, 40-50 percent of all Chinese women may have had bound feet, and up to almost 100 percent among upper-class Han Chinese women. Then, the toenails were cut back as far as possible to prevent in-growth and subsequent infections, since the toes were to be pressed tightly into the sole of the foot. In … However, as the girl grew older, the bones would begin to heal. She believed that women should emancipate themselves from oppression, that girls can ensure their independence through education, and that they should develop new mental and physical qualities fitting for the new era. She argued that women, by retaining their small bound feet, made themselves subservient as it would mean women imprisoning themselves indoors. [58] A less severe form in Sichuan, called "cucumber foot" (huanggua jiao) due to its slender shape, folded the four toes under but did not distort the heel and taper the ankle. Post was not sent - check your email addresses! [28] However, many women with bound feet were still able to walk and work in the fields, albeit with greater limitations than their non-bound counterparts. 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. The ultimate goal was to make them 3 inches long, the ideal “golden lotus” foot, though few individuals actually achieved that goal. It was generally an elder female member of the girl's family or a professional foot binder who carried out the initial breaking and ongoing binding of the feet. [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. [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. Other stories say foot binding began during Tang times. [37], Reform-minded Chinese intellectuals began to consider footbinding to be an aspect of their culture that needed to be eliminated. In the 12th century, foot binding became much more widespread, and by the early Qing Dynasty (in the mid-17th century), every girl who wished to marry had her feet bound. 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. Warm water to help soften the feet. One of these involves the story of Pan Yunu, a favourite consort of the Southern Qi Emperor Xiao Baojuan. [34] In 1895, Christian women in Shanghai led by Alicia Little, formed the Natural Foot (tianzu, literally 'Heavenly Foot') Society. Women with such deformed feet avoided placing weight on the front of the foot and tended to walk predominantly on their heels. Foot binding was the Chinese custom of breaking and tightly binding the feet of young girls in order to change the shape and size of their feet; during the time it was practiced, bound feet were considered a status symbol and a mark of beauty. [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. [70], There are many interpretations to the practice of footbinding. The prevalence and practice of foot binding varied in different parts of the country, with the feet of young women bound to raise their marriage prospects in some areas. In the mid-19th century, many of the rebel leaders of the Taiping Rebellion were of Hakka background whose women did not bind their feet, and foot binding was outlawed. The foot binding process was long, excruciatingly painful and pretty gross. Despite foot binding no longer being practiced, a number of Chinese women who had their feet bound are still alive, though As of 2007[update], this number had dwindled to only a small handful of elderly Chinese women. Painful tradition in China of binding young girls feet to keep them from growing, and maintain small sized feet. Foot binding resulted in the forward curvature of the lumbar vertebrae as a result of a woman struggling to balance and walk properly. {This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. The feet were also soaked in a concoction that caused any necrotic flesh to fall off. 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]. Foot Binding: Crippling Practice Fades into History. 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). 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. Considered an attractive quality, the effects of the process were painful and permanent. Some men preferred never to see a woman's bound feet, so they were always concealed within tiny "lotus shoes" and wrappings. Supposedly, the corrupt last emperor of the Shang, King Zhou, had a favorite concubine named Daji who was born with clubfoot. 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