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How Are Feet Bound? [3 Answers Found]

These changes can be illustrated by the practice of female foot-binding 😊 Some early evidence for it comes from the tomb of Lady Huang Sheng, the wife of an imperial clansman, who died in 1243 🔥 Archaeologists discovered tiny, misshapen feet that had been wrapped in gauze and placed inside specially shaped “lotus shoes.” For one of my pieces on camera, I balanced a pair of embroidered doll shoes in the palm of my hand, as I talked about Lady Huang and the origins of foot-binding. When it was over, I turned to the museum curator who had given me the shoes and made some comment about the silliness of using toy shoes. This was when I was informed that I had had been holding the real thing. The miniature “doll” shoes had in fact been worn by a human. The shock of discovery was like being doused with a bucket of freezing water. [1]
The tiny “lotus foot” in its delicate silken shoe was seen as one of the most attractive qualities in a prospective bride; the smaller the foot, the more sexually pleasing the girl was. More recent studies have shown that foot-binding was likely practiced not purely for the sake of marriage, but also to keep girls at home and engaged in handicrafts, such as spinning cotton, in order to contribute to their family’s income. The end result, no matter the motivation, was severe physical impairment. Yet despite foot-binding’s brutality, and hundreds of anthropological studies addressing it, the long-term medical consequences of the practice have been largely neglected. Examining the debilitating, lifelong physical effects that foot-binding had on Chinese girls can be crucial for understanding the lengths to which societies will go to restrict women’s freedom. (emended by Jose Rogers from Qinhuangdao, China on February 5, 2021) [2]
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The experts at people.howstuffworks.com give further information. Ancient manuals instructed men in how to sensually fondle bound feet in innumerable ways, and use them to enhance sexual encounters. The Chinese also believed women with bound feet developed extra strong vaginal muscles because of the mincing steps they have taken, thus making sexual intercourse more pleasurable. Further, many women kept their feet bound throughout sexual encounters, enhancing their mystique while covering their grotesqueness. But some men liked to see the bare foot — they would smell it, caress it, even put it in their mouth. Bizarre foot fetishes developed, such as drinking the water a woman had used to wash her feet, or placing nuts between her deformed toes, then eating them . (edited by Maria Chavez from Sanaa, Yemen on April 29, 2020) [3]
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Vidal Stallings from mymed.com provide further insight. The process would begin with either the mother of the girl or another older women from her family, such as her grandmother, clipping the toenails of the girl’s feet and then soaking the feet in either hot water or a special concoction of ingredients that ranged from various nuts to herbs. This was done in order for the tissues and bones of the feet to soften in order to easily facilitate manipulation. After soaking, the feet were then massaged and doused in alum – a chemical substance that is used in the dyeing of cloth and also causes the skin to tighten. The process would begin during the months of winter so as to allow for the cold to numb some of the pain experienced. [4]
Chinese girls had their feet bound typically from the age of five to eight. The had process begun by choosing an auspicious day in the calendar. Next prayers and offerings were offered to the Tiny-Footed Maiden Goddess; another recipient was the Buddhist figure of Guanyin, a bodhisattva or enlightened one who was thought to protect women in general. When all was ready, the task was done by the older women of the family or by a professional foot-binder. The big toe was left facing forwards while the four smaller toes were bent under the foot. In this position, the feet were tightly bound using long strips of cloth, which then restricted any future growth and gave the foot a pronounced arch. The feet were unbound after one month, any ulcerations of the skin treated, and the foot rebound again. The bindings were loosened and retightened thereafter once each month until the girl reached her early teens (or even longer depending on the desired effect). It was not uncommon for one or more toes to be lost or to have infections in the foot or gangrene. Even as an adult a woman continued to wrap her deformed feet in bindings, wearing them at all times in public and when bathing. [5]

Article References

  1. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/why-footbinding-persisted-china-millennium-180953971/
  2. https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2020/02/lasting-damage-foot-binding/606439/
  3. https://people.howstuffworks.com/culture-traditions/cultural-traditions/foot-binding.htm
  4. https://www.mymed.com/health-wellness/body-modifications/foot-binding/what-did-the-process-of-foot-binding-entail
  5. https://www.worldhistory.org/Foot-Binding/
Mae Chow

Written by Mae Chow

Passionate about writing and studying Chinese, I blog about anything from fashion to food. And of course, study chinese! I'm a passionate blogger and life enthusiast who loves to share my thoughts, views and opinions with the world. I share things that are close to my heart as well as topics from all over the world.

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