Perhaps no other shoe in history has provided so much cultural fascination and ethical revulsion than the traditional Chinese practice of foot binding. Undertaken by (or enacted upon) young girls between the ages of 5 and 7, the binding process entails the breaking of the bones in the foot, and subsequent warping and (sometime) mutilation of the foot in order for it to remain a tiny size, ideally no longer than three inches in length (known as a “golden lily” by practitioners).
Chinese foot binding is a now ancient tradition of wrapping the feet of young girls. This tradition died out, thankfully, about 100 years ago. The idea was, the smaller the feet, the more beautiful & feminine the girl.
Rare Photographs of Chinese Foot Binding from the 1800s
Often a sign of wealth as women with bound feet could not stand long to do household tasks. Shoes for bound feet were usually exquisitely embroidered as needlework was one thing these women could do while sitting.
Chinese woman, 84, recalls agony of having her feet bound as a child