Sunday, March 11, 2007

foot binding

The practice of foot binding started during the Tang Dynasty (618907). According to legend, women were bound in this way to replicate an imperial concubine who danced with her feet wrapped in silk; the other concubines were envious and they all started binding their feet in order to impress the emperor.

The earliest recorded opponent to footbinding was a writer from the Song Dynasty (960-1279) called Ch'e Jo-shui. The Manchus who conquered China in the 17th century tried without success to abolish the practice. Manchu women were forbidden from binding their feet or the feet of their daughters. Instead they wore 'flower bowl' shoes which gave the illusion of tiny feet. Bound feet became an important differentiating marker between manchu and Han.

In 1911, the Republic of China government banned foot binding; women were told to unwrap their feet lest they be killed. Some women's feet grew 1/2 - 1 inch after the unwrapping, though some found the new growth process extremely painful and emotionally and culturally devastating.

wiki article

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