Foot binding eventually spread to most social classes by the Qing dynasty, with the practice only ceasing to exist in the early 20th century. [69], First, each foot would be soaked in a warm mixture of herbs and animal blood; this was intended to soften the foot and aid the binding. [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. In the 19th and early 20th century, dancers with bound feet were popular, as were circus performers who stood on prancing or running horses. (Diss. I do not know what use this is. {Editorial note: modern Chinese footwear has been likened to “modern foot-binding” and can … A number of attempts were made throughout history to end the practice. According to Robert van Gulik, the bound feet were also considered the most intimate part of a woman's body; in erotic art of the Qing period where the genitalia may be shown, the bound feet were never depicted uncovered. Jan 17, 2015 - Explore Cindy Lee's board "History of Foot Binding" on Pinterest. 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. Widely used as a method to distinguish girls of the upper class from everyone else, and later as a way for the lower classes to improve their social prospects, the practice of foot-binding would c… [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. However, foot binding was also a painful practice that significantly limited the mobility of women, resulting in lifelong disabilities for most of its subjects, including the inability to walk quickly and significant pain and discomfort while walking. Foot binding, or ‘lotus feet’, stands as a symbol of a bygone China. 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. 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. In 1664, the Manchu Kangxi Emperor attempted to ban foot binding, but failed in doing so. [90] The Neo-Confucian Cheng Yi was said to be against footbinding and his family and descendants did not bind their feet. Women with bound feet could not walk and had to totter about. [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]. [38], Immediately after this procedure, the girl's broken toes were folded back under and the feet were rebound. The feet were bound by yards of cloth that would not stretch. [18] The practice, however, was encouraged by the Mongol rulers on their Chinese subjects. my global studies class project. Considered an attractive quality, the effects of the process were painful and permanent. [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. [112], Former Chinese custom of breaking and binding the feet of young girls, A Chinese woman showing her foot, image by. (歩歩生蓮), a reference to the Buddhist legend of Padmavati, under whose feet lotus springs forth. Foot binding began among the Han people. [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. 3. [72], At the beginning of the binding, many of the foot bones would remain broken, often for years. [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. Sorry, your blog cannot share posts by email. The poor girls needed normal feet in order to work. Mothers, grandmothers, or older female relatives first bound the girl’s 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. [1] Bound feet became a mark of beauty and were also a prerequisite for finding a husband. In one version, the practice goes back to the earliest documented dynasty, the Shang Dynasty (c. 1600 BCE–1046 BCE). It generally began when girls were 4 to 7 years old, because at that age the bones in their feet were still fairly soft and pliable, and thus easier to reshape [source: Footwear History].. First, the feet were softened in hot water. Dorothy Ko, "Rethinking sex, female agency, and footbinding". [1], There are a number of stories about the origin of foot binding before its establishment during the Song dynasty. 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. 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. [64], The Hakka people however were unusual among Han Chinese in not practicing foot binding at all. 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. It was normal for centuries, until being finally outlawed in 1911. 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). 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. [28] It is thought that the necessity for women labour in the fields due to a longer crop-growing season in the South and the impracticability of bound feet working in wet rice fields limited the spread of the practice in the countryside of the South. When the young girls had foot binding, they would experience a painful feeling during the process. Various myths and folktales relate to the origin of foot-binding in China. Many women with bound feet were able to walk unaided and work in the fields, albeit with greater limitation than women whose feet were not bound. [35][43] In 1902, the Cixi issued an anti-foot binding edict, but it was soon rescinded. introduced positive overtones, arguing that it gave women a sense of mastery over their bodies, and pride in their beauty. Foot binding has caused a lot of deaths. [91][92] Modern Confucian scholars such as Tu Weiming also dispute any causal link between neo-Confucianism and footbinding. In the late 20th century some feminists[who?] Easy fix. This unbinding and rebinding ritual was repeated as often as possible (for the rich at least once daily, for poor peasants two or three times a week), with fresh bindings. Because having bound feet was a sign of sophistication and being upper-class, women without bound feet had little chance of marrying into nobility. It is however argued that such injunction applies less to women, rather it is meant to emphasize the sacred link between sons and their parents. Han Qiaoni, from Yuxian County in northern China's Shanxi … She argued that women, by retaining their small bound feet, made themselves subservient as it would mean women imprisoning themselves indoors. [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. Warm water to help soften the feet. [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. 10 Best Nonfiction Books of the Last Decade. 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. [39] The anti-footbinding movement, however, stressed pragmatic and patriotic reasons rather than feminist ones, arguing that abolition of footbinding would lead to better health and more efficient labour. [67] In southern China, in Guangzhou, 19th century Scottish scholar James Legge noted a mosque that had a placard denouncing foot binding, saying Islam did not allow it since it constituted violating the creation of God. [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. [9] The style of bound feet found in Song dynasty tombs, where the big toe was bent upward, appears to be different from the norm of later eras, and the excessive smallness of the feet - an ideal known as the "three-inch golden lotus" - may be a later development in the 16th century. Post was not sent - check your email addresses! ", Hughes, Roxane. A 102-year-old is thought to be one of the few remaining women in China who has bound feet. [98][99] It is also widely seen as a form of violence against women. The binding of feet, if done properly, was started when the girl was five or six years old. [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. Sewing on quilt binding. 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. Generally, it was a practice for females. 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. It’s hard to know where to begin with a topic as painful and emotionally-charged as foot binding. 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. [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. 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%. [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. [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". [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. For example, they assume that the practice represented a woman's individual freedom to enjoy sexuality, despite lack of evidence. 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. [75] Sometimes, as in the case of Pearl Buck's The Good Earth (1931), the accounts are relatively neutral or empirical, implying a respect for Chinese culture (note however that Buck's previous novel, "East Wind: West Wind", extensively explores the unbinding of a woman's feet, experienced as frightening and painful yet finally empowering, as part of her transition into a new, more modern and more individualistic persona under her doctor husband's tender tutelage). "[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. Origins of Foot Binding . That's mainly because the rich had servants to serve them since they couldn't walk. Over the centuries foot binding was practiced by many elite families and later became widespread among all social levels. Mechanization resulted in women who worked at home facing a crisis. ", Brown, Melissa J., and Damian Satterthwaite-Phillips. Painful tradition in China of binding young girls feet to keep them from growing, and maintain small sized feet. The ideal bound foot was 3 inches long, the shape of a crescent moon, and covered by a tiny embroidered shoe. [105][42] The ending of the practice is seen as a significant event in the process of female emancipation in China. [75], Before footbinding was practiced in China, admiration for small feet already existed as demonstrated by the Tang dynasty tale of Ye Xian written around 850 by Duan Chengshi. [100][101][102] Bound feet rendered women dependent on their families, particularly the men, as they became largely restricted to their homes. 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. During the Yuan dynasty, some would also drink directly from the shoe itself. Bones in the girls' feet would often be deliberately broken again in order to further change the size or shape of the feet. [28] Coupled with changes in politics and people's consciousness, the practice of foot binding disappeared in China forever after two generations. Some men preferred never to see a woman's bound feet, so they were always concealed within tiny "lotus shoes" and wrappings. Women with the ideal foot size were very desirable for marriage. [84] The psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud considered footbinding to be a "perversion that corresponds to foot fetishism",[85] and that it appeased male castration anxiety. [44], In 1912, the new Republic of China government banned foot binding, though the ban was not actively implemented,[45] and leading intellectuals of the May Fourth Movement saw foot binding as a major symbol of China's backwardness. Disease inevitably followed infection, meaning that death from septic shock could result from foot-binding, and a surviving girl was more at risk for medical problems as she grew older. [24] In late 19th century Guangdong, it was customary to bind the feet of the eldest daughter of a lower-class family who was intended to be brought up as a lady. It is thought that as many as 10% of girls may have died from gangrene and other infections due to footbinding. [34], If the infection in the feet and toes entered the bones, it could cause them to soften, which could result in toes dropping off; however, this was seen as a benefit because the feet could then be bound even more tightly. Binding usually started during the winter months since the feet were more likely to be numb, and therefore the pain would not be as extreme. Rich girls would have their feet bound while the poor would not. [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. 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. This was especially the case with the toes, as small toes were especially desirable. 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. [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. [19] However, few Han Chinese complied with the edicts and Kangxi eventually abandoned the effort in 1668. Université de Lausanne, Faculté des lettres, 2017), Shepherd, John R. "The Qing, the Manchus, and Footbinding: Sources and Assumptions under Scrutiny.". [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. [86] According to Robert van Gulik, the prominent Song Confucian scholar Zhu Xi stressed the inferiority of women as well as the need to keep men and women strictly separate. Historian Dorothy Ko has argued that these feminists have mistakenly imposed late 20th-century middle-class Western ideals of individualism and agency on a highly traditional culture. [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. She can't even walk which is the worst part of all. [76][77] For many, the bound feet were an enhancement to a woman's beauty and made her movement more dainty,[78] and a woman with perfect lotus feet was likely to make a more prestigious marriage. Foot binding is often seen by feminists as an oppressive practice against women who were victims of a sexist culture. 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. [4] The binding of feet was then replicated by other upper-class women, and the practice spread. 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. Jo Farrell speaks to Kristie Lu Stout about her mission to document China's last surviving women with bound feet. [96][97] Anthropologist Fred Blake argued that the practice of footbinding was a form of discipline undertaken by women themselves, and perpetuated by women on their daughters, so as to inform their daughters of their role and position in society, and to support and participate in the neo-Confucian way of being civilized.[94]. There is survivors of footing binding, like Zhou Gulahen,86, says she regrets binding her feet. "Ambivalent Orientalism: Footbinding in Chinese American History, Culture and Literature". 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. [29][59] Some working women in Jiangsu made a pretense of binding while keeping their feet natural. The feet were also soaked in a concoction that caused any necrotic flesh to fall off. [103] Thus, the practice ensured that women were much more reliant on their husbands. In … Each time the feet were unbound, they were washed, the toes carefully checked for injury, and the nails carefully and meticulously trimmed. Foot binding lasted over 1,000 years in China and … (AFP/Getty Images (AFP/Getty Images) [106] It is a great significance in the development history of Chinese feminism. [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. [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. [35] The society asked members to promise not to bind their daughters' feet or let their sons marry a woman who bound their feet. 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]. Share something you’ve done that you laughed at yourself. Xu Ji 徐積 《詠蔡家婦》: 「但知勒四支,不知裹两足。」(translation: "knowing about arranging the four limbs, but not about binding her two feet); Cummings, S. & Stone, K. (1997) "Consequences of Foot Binding Among Older Women in Beijing China", in: Patricia Buckley Ebrey, “Gender and Sinology: Shifting Western Interpretations of Foot binding, 1300-1890,” ‘’ Late Imperial China’’ (1999) 20#2 pp 1-34. 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. Is thought to be around the house [ 53 ] [ 54 ] by 21st. 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