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Would you believe that in ancient China, girls as young as four years old would have their feet tightly bound together to prevent them from growing?
Footbinding in China was a common practice for over 1,000 years. It started during the Tang Dynasty and continued until the end of the Qing Dynasty.
During this time, it became a status symbol, signifying that one was wealthy and beautiful. Many women bound their feet so that they would be able to match up to the women's beauty standards of the time. Much like how a tiny waist or perfect skin are some unrealistic standards of modern beauty, small feet were considered beautiful and desirable.
Foot-binding, as it was largely believed, would prevent women from growing their feet to normal size. The 'delicate and small foot' of an adult woman who had her feet bound was called the 'golden lotus foot'.
Foot binding became such a popular practice during the Song Dynasty that it was considered important for every woman to have bound feet. At this time, most upper-class families encouraged foot binding for all the daughters of the household. Some poor families also tried binding feet because they wanted to improve their social status by doing so. Footbinding continued until 1912 when it became illegal in China due to modernization and western influence.
Though it's now illegal and rarely practiced, the legacy of foot binding still affects Chinese women today.
If you're curious about Chinese history, foot binding is one topic that might stand out. It's shocking, gruesome, and downright disturbing, but it's also a very important aspect to understand China's society in the past.
Foot binding was a popular practice in China where a woman's feet were tied with binding cloth or bandages so that they would be small and delicate. This was done to make them look more attractive and also to show their status as wealthy women.
Chinese foot binding was a traditional practice that did not become popular until after the Ming Dynasty when women from wealthy families started practicing it, particularly in northern China.
Foot binding was seen as a symbol of wealth and beauty because it was something that only wealthy women could afford to do.
The foot binding process was extremely painful and excruciatingly slow. It took years for footbinding to be complete, so it started when women were young children.
The first stage involved wrapping their feet tightly with bandages while they slept or sat still during the day; this could take up to two years until all of the foot bones had broken. Many women had their big toe, heel, and ankle bones broken in order to make them fit into the tiny foot binding slippers.
Foot binding is illegal in China. In fact, the Chinese government has been trying to stop the practice for many years.
They have created laws that prohibit foot binding and they have also provided education about the dangers of the practice.
However, some women still choose to bind their feet because they believe it will make them more attractive or because it is a tradition that has been passed down in the family.
Footbinding can be most closely associated with the Tang Dynasty in China. This was a time when foot binding became extremely popular and it continued until the end of the Qing Dynasty.
The first instance of foot-binding can be traced back to a 10th-century court dancer, Yao Niang. She is said to have bound her feet so that she could dance better.
After seeing her dance, many women in the court started binding their own feet.
The process of foot binding usually began when girls were around the age of four or five.
They would start by tightly wrapping their feet with binding cloth or bandages so that they would be small and delicate.
Over time, this practice would cause their foot bones to break and deform.
The practice continued until the end of the Qing Dynasty. It was first practiced by upper-class women but eventually spread to other social classes as foot-binding became more popular among wealthy families throughout history.
The practice was banned in 1912 after years of criticism from western countries about its cruelty towards women who had their feet bound.
Foot binding was supported by the upper classes because they believed footbinding would make women more beautiful.
They also thought foot-binding would lead towards promiscuity if it stopped being done; foot-bound women were seen as attractive and desirable by men so this could mean money for their family members.
The village of Liuyuetan still practices foot binding among their elderly women, but the younger generation knows that foot-binding leads to health problems so the practice has mostly declined.
Foot-binding was opposed by many Chinese people, especially those who lived outside of the cities.
They were against footbinding because they believed that foot binding caused women to become weak and feeble.
Others were disgusted at how much pain footbinding caused girls when they had their feet bound at such young ages (usually around four years old).
The practice of binding feet was supposed to make women more dainty and attractive. In addition to looking good, foot bindings also supposedly allowed women to walk more gracefully.
The foot size that the Chinese girls wanted to achieve through foot-binding was known as 'golden lotuses' and they would range from just three in. (7.6cm) long.
This was achieved by first wrapping the feet in gauze, and then placing them in 'golden lotus shoes'.
Lotus toy shoes were slippers worn by the bound feet women. They were named after the lotus flower because they resembled the petals of a lotus blossom, or because a bound foot resembled a lotus bud.
These foot-binding slippers, usually made out of silk or cotton, are so tiny that one would find it difficult to believe they were worn by young children, let alone adults. They are said to resemble embroidered doll shoes.
With the lotus shoe, girls were expected to walk gracefully downstairs or in public places like parks where there might be many people around them at any given time.
It is interesting to note that foot-binding and high heel shoes have a similar purpose, they both make a woman’s feet look small and delicate. However, footbinding was much more painful and dangerous than wearing high heel shoes.
A controversial opinion exists that explains how Chinese foot-binding could be a form of feminism, as it allowed women to break free from the traditional gender roles that were prescribed to them.
Although foot binding was a common practice among Chinese women, it wasn’t forced upon them. It was something they chose to do because of cultural norms and expectations from society.
Foot binding was a way for women to defy society and express themselves in their own unique way because it allowed women to have some control over their own bodies.
They could choose to bind their feet and make themselves desirable, which was something that only wealthy women could do in the past.
On the other hand, foot-binding was also something that symbolized how girls were obedient and would follow what others expected of them.
Aside from the pain, foot binding caused a lot of damage to the feet. Many women had their toes, heel, and ankle bones broken in order to make them fit into the tiny footbinding slippers. This often led to lifelong problems with walking and resulted in extreme foot deformities.
Chinese foot-binding led to a range of health problems that were sometimes fatal. Infections were common because the feet were constantly wrapped in tight bandages.
The bones in the feet would break and deform over time, which often led to foot pain, difficulty walking, and even death from gangrene.
Gangrene is a condition that happens when there is a lack of blood flow to an area of the body. This can cause the tissue in the area to die, which can lead to infection and even death.
As for the slippers themselves, they made it difficult for women to work outside of the house because foot binding slippers were not suitable for any kind of heavy usage.
The foot bones broke because they were constantly wrapped in tight bandages that made it difficult for blood circulation or airflow into the foot area.
It was not uncommon for women who underwent foot binding procedures as children to develop arthritis later on in life due to these deformities caused by constant pressure on their feet while still growing up. This also meant they weren’t able to work outside of the home since most jobs required some type of physical labor (like farming).
Along with foot deformities, foot-binding was an amplifier (as well as the result) of the stigma attached to having large feet because it meant someone wasn't working hard enough on themselves since only 'proper ladies' could afford such luxury!
Today, foot binding has been mostly abandoned in China. However, some people still keep their feet small for cultural reasons or to fit into high heels more easily.
Some people think it would be a good idea for China or other parts of Asia to completely ban footbinding because of the pain and health problems it causes and also as part of modern China’s effort towards gender equality.
Others think that it should be preserved as part of traditional Chinese culture. Many people still see foot-binding as an art form that has been around since ancient times; some even say there are different levels of 'artistry' when it comes to the footbinding process itself.
Many older women who have foot deformities from the practice now wear ankle socks and sandals instead of shoes because it is easier on their feet; they also enjoy walking barefoot without the pain caused by tight shoes squeezing against the foot arch all day long.
In addition to this physical relief, modern technology has made it possible for anyone with small or tiny feet (whether feet bound or not) to buy custom-made footwear designed specifically for them so that there will never again be any need for foot binding procedures.
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