Sunday, November 13, 2005

Wedding Fete

In ancient China, foot binding used to be customary for women of wealth and nobility – many years before getting married. It is a painful process of binding the feet in order to stop it from growing. The typical age for foot binding began as early as 4 or 5. Popular during the Tang Dynasty, the practice was believed to have been inspired by the beauty and glamour associated with concubines that performed for the emperor. Large footed women were considered ugly and often poor because only the rich could afford foot binding. Being petite footed allowed women to wear dainty narrow shoes – not for walking, but entirely for aesthetic reasons, since these women often could not walk on their own anymore. Many of these women’s feet only grew to about 4 inches at the most. If you take a look at some examples of these shoes, it’s quite uncanny at how their “pointedness” resembles many wedding shoes and even ordinary fashion footwear in modern times. See what I mean:

These pointy tipped shoes are typically so thin on the front of the shoe that it takes an extraordinary individual with super narrow and thin feet to be able to fit into these shoes. While pointy shoes have certainly passed that of having to bind one’s feet, they still remain entirely impractical for most women.

Ancient China – an example from Frank H. McClung Museum · University of Tennessee - exhibit on foot binding

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