Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Feet Binding

Ive started reading a book about a young Chinese girl how she grows into womanhood, it has a bit about foot binding and how girls from the age of 3 to 7 started the process of turning their feet into a shape that is known as The Golden Lotus , by the end of the process her feet should be no longer than 3-4 inches long.

Her big toe was left, the daughters' feet would first be soaked in warm water or animal blood and herbs bandage was wrapped from the back of the foot to around the other four toes, the special potion that was used for this caused any dead flesh to fall off. She would have her toe nails cut as short as possible therefore not allowing them to grow into the foot. the girl then had to walk around like this so that her toes would break pushing the foot inwards making a fold. The bandages, which were ten feet long and two inches wide where taken of every 2 days her feet cleaned with the potion and the bandages would be replaced again (the bandages where soaked in warm water and as the dried they would constrict, making the bandage tighter on the foot).

Even after the process was finished, which took around 2 years women were rarely seen without anything on their feet

In the book it says that women did this to show their future mother in laws that they could live with childbirth as they had gone through pain already by having their feet binded. Men also found looking at their wives feet sexually exciting, the folds of the skin represented the folds of the women's pubic area.

Depending on where you lived, and the life the girl lived also determined whether the girl had her feet binded or not, if she was to work in the fields or help in the house as a servant she was more than likely to not have had her feet bound, so that she could walk around easily
With reading this book i wanted to know a little more.

The historical origins of footbinding are frustratingly vague, although brief textual references suggest that small feet for women were preferred as early as the Han dynasty. The first documented reference to the actual binding of a foot is from the court of the Southern Tang dynasty in Nanjing, which celebrates the fame of its dancing girls renowned for their tiny feet and beautiful bow shoes. The practice apparently became the standard for feminine beauty in the imperial court, spreading downward socially and geographically as the lower classes strove to imitate the style of the elite.

If you want to know more about Chinese feet binding
click here