The start of the practice can be traced back to 700 AD, and was not legally banned until 1911. “It was a strong tradition passed from … Supposedly, the corrupt last emperor of the Shang, King Zhou, had a favorite concubine named Daji who was born with clubfoot. He found other problems, too: Women with bound feet tended to have a lower bone density in their spines and hips, more trouble getting up and down from a seated position, and severe difficulties when it came to managing things like a cane at the same time as, say, a shopping bag. Feet altered by foot binding were known as lotus feet, and the shoes made for these feet were known as lotus shoes. The major reason is that many men found bound feet to be highly erotic. I regret a lot. Skeletal remains of women with bound feet have shown that at their most extreme, the process "dramatically altered" the bones of the foot. But when British photographer Jo Farrell started interviewing some of the last women to have it done, she found that wasn't always the case. the practice of foot binding began to shift from a symbol of beauty to one of torture, oppression and control. There are a few different versions of just how foot binding started, and NPR says one of the oldest dates back to the Shang dynasty. There was no one way to do it, or a single, idealized way to re-form the shape of the foot. So, why do it? After first assuming it was rare, he saw more and more study participants with bound feet and realized there was something else at work. The unfortunate Chinese tradition of foot binding was one that, however severe and painful, was present for much of the country's history. Zhu Xi was (via the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy) one of the most important philosophers of the Southern Song, and in terms of influence, he was second only to Confucius himself. Others would have their foot bent and compressed lengthwise as well, and that served to make the foot even less stable. In one version, the practice goes back to the earliest documented dynasty, the Shang Dynasty (c. 1600 BCE–1046 BCE). And this is where it gets a little strange. He wanted to find out why Chinese women had fewer hip fractures than their similarly aged American counterparts, and the second study participant was the first woman he had ever met with bound feet. Origins of Foot Binding Various myths and folktales relate to the origin of foot-binding in China. Presented by: Alexa R. Tatiana G. Maria C. and Karla E. Create your own unique website with customizable templates. They had watched their mothers binding their own and copied.". The practice of Chinese foot binding began during the rule of Li Yu when the emperor became attracted to a concubine who had bound her feet tightly for a dance routine. In addition to the breaking of the bones and the reshaping that was done with the bindings, those bindings had another purpose: They were wrapped so tightly that they restricted the amount a foot would grow. First, each foot would be soaked in a warm mixture of herbs and animal blood; this was intended to soften the foot and aid the binding. The exact origin of the practice is unknown. ", She also found that it wasn't always forced on young girls — in fact, the opposite was true. Estimates suggest that as many as two billion women have had it done ... so what is it, how did it start, and why on earth would they go through something so painful and permanently life-changing? Girls typically had their feet bound before they were nine years old, but it was seen as better to start when they were younger, often as young as four. The tradition, known as foot binding, eventually came to symbolize China's backwardness, a relic from the country's distant past. NPR dates the origins of foot binding to 961, while other stories put it somewhere around 1700 BC. After all that, they were forced to walk. However not everyone supported the practice or bound their feet such as the poor, ethnic Hakka people, and women who fished. Foot binding is an old Chinese custom of wrapping girls' feet with cloth in order to stop them from growing with age. This was a practice where a young girl’s feet were tightly wrapped. And that means it's a tradition that's been changing women's lives for at least a thousand years. Fordham University says that while historical evidence is lacking, there's textual evidence that small feet were prized as a standard of beauty as far back as the Han Dynasty — between 202 and 220. Then, the arch of her foot was bent as far as possible and also bound tightly with long strips of cloth. When the Communist government took over in 1949, they added a stigma to foot binding and pressured families to stop the practice and even reverse it. It makes sense, then, that the process was also about economics — and not just beauty. Her mother refused to bind her feet, so when she was 15 years old, she did it herself. Some girls dealt with punishment in addition to the bindings. There are legend and historical reasons as to why foot binding started. According to the Smithsonian, it started mildly enough: with a soak in hot water, a pedicure, and a massage. The Shang Empress Taki had a clubfoot (deformed foot that is twisted so the sole can't be That's a lot of wiggle room and just goes to show how fuzzy history can get sometimes. Why Did Foot Binding Exist? "Some women bound their own feet as their mothers and grandmothers would refuse, and they wanted to fit in with those in their village. We do know that it wasn't until 1874 that a British priest started the first anti-foot binding society, and while it wasn't outlawed for almost another 35 years, the practice continued long beyond that. Foot binding essentially forces a person to walk not on their whole foot but on only the heel bone and the big toe, which changes gait and posture. Women were encouraged to unbind their feet and burn the bindings, and some — like Pi Guiqiong — were able to. According to the Huffington Post, the practice was widespread by the 12th century. The process of foot binding was one that took years and involved a significant amount of excruciating pain that resulted in a permanent deformity of the feet in order for them to appear smaller. Then, at night, we would bind them again.". Which of the written sources (Sources 1–5) is most relevant in judging how common foot binding was? The idea was to speed up the process of breaking the arch of the foot so it could be bent even farther. All the bending and breaking of the foot interfered with a girl's circulation, and skin ulcers, Healthline says, are open sores that develop because of poor circulation. One legend suggests foot binding began during the reign of Li Yu (961-975) who ruled one region of china, according to historical records from Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD). Fordham University questioned why women in poor or rural communities were willing to go through the pain of foot binding and risk disability and death. That story suggests that it was a Shang empress who had a clubfoot and ordered everyone to bind their feet in solidarity that started the practice, but that's not the only tale. Foot binding, says Fordham University, was not a standardized practice. The practice of female foot-binding in China originated in the mid-900s, after Emperor Li Yu was tantalized by a dancer who “bound her feet into the shape of a new moon.” Within a couple hundred years, it had become customary for girls to begin having their feet … It's still disputed as to just why it became so widespread, and one part is that it was believed to increase a woman's marriage prospects and the likelihood of a sort of Cinderella story. Su Xi Rong was 75 years old in 2008 and told photographer Jo Farrell (via The Guardian) that she had tried to unbind her feet. Supposedly a concubine named Daji who was said to have had clubfoot, asked an emperor to make foot binding mandatory for all females so that her feet would be the only custom of beauty. Decades later, all her toes remained folded under her feet, but she hasn't reduced the length of her foot — the ultimate goal. Binding your feet was very dangerous. When the young girls had foot binding, they would experience a painful feeling during the process. When she was caught, her grandmother cut some of the skin off her toes. It all started when palace dancers performed with bound feet and the practice spread slowly through China! For this assignment, we will complete the “Thinking Like an Historian” section “When and Why Did Foot Binding Begin?” Read the excerpts about foot-binding and answer the following questions. The practice officially was sanctioned in 1902. Body modification has an incredibly long history — as soon as we were aware of the way we look, we were trying to change that for one reason or another. She got married when she was just 15 years old, and while her husband originally told her that he liked her beautiful, tiny feet, he later encouraged her to unbind them. And poor communities, they say, "could not afford the luxury of helpless women." Last living women in China with bound feet – Feet binding started in the Song dynasty and fell out of fashion in the early 20th century when it was banned by the government. Foot binding originated in the tenth or eleventh century by dancers and courtesans. Legend has said origins of foot binding go back to the Shang Dynasty (1700-1027 B.C). Putting an end to the practice of foot binding proved difficult. The Wall Street Journal says that with the "cucumber" foot, the four toes were folded under and broken, while the big toes were left straight — which was popular in the south. She wasn't alone: The practice lasted for a long time after it was officially outlawed. As if that all isn't bad enough, it also wasn't uncommon for girls to lose a few toes in the process, which The Guardian calls "auto amputation.". The tiny shoes worn by some women with bound feet are called lotus shoes. After learning about the gruesome process of Chinese foot binding, learn about why the Chinese used to eat human corpses dipped in honey . Once the foot binding process was started, The Atlantic says that women would keep the bindings on their feet for the rest of their lives — and if it seems like the trauma of having toes broken and bent over and over again then walking on them is a recipe for all kinds of problems, it absolutely was. Little by little,it would start breaking bones from all the body. The motivations behind foot binding haven't always been 100 percent clear, says The Wall Street Journal. Even into the 1960s and 1970s, The Telegraph says government officials would inspect women's feet — if they were found to be wearing bindings, they'd take them off and hang them in the windows as a mark of shame. This is the horrifying tradition of foot binding that lasted in China for over 1,000 years and Chinese women swore by it. The type of foot-binding practiced in rural communities was a form of discipline, the book argues. "The way these women avoided injury," he wrote, "was by not doing anything.". Once the process was done, the ideal was the golden lotus: a foot just three inches long that showed in a very physical way that a girl had desirable characteristics, like "obedience and restraint." Foot binding lasted over 1,000 years in China and crippled an estimated one to two billion women. Even as the practice started spreading through the countryside, teachers of Ruism spoke out against it. According to The Atlantic, there's long been a massive gap in our knowledge of foot binding, and that's the long-term consequences. It was practiced by a large section of the population and crossed all socio-economic lines. Explain your answer. What did the process of foot binding entail? Bindings were regularly tightened, and the foot would eventually heal into a form that — ideally — crushed the toes and the heel together and formed a deep cleft along the sole. Her famous golden lotus went on to give its name to the most desirable of feet: the very tiniest of them all. There are various theories as to why foot binding was continually practiced in China for 1000 years. The numbers are almost unthinkable: In the 19th century, nearly 100 percent of upper-class women had bound their feet, and half of women overall had gone through the agonizing, crippling procedure. It's sort of understandable as a status symbol, for women who have the luxury of having others do all their work for them. When and where did foot binding start and end? Mothers bound young girls’ feet so they would stay still and work with their hands, creating yarn and spinning thread, among other things, which families could use or sell. But at the time, if you didn't bind your feet, no one would marry you.". And it makes less sense if you're, say, working in the fields or chasing animals around all day. Decorative shoes and leggings were worn over the bandages and could differ with the time of day and occasion. I mean, come on! Respecting them meant not harming this gift that they gave us, and that meant not breaking, binding, and reshaping feet. Foot binding was outlawed in 1911 because it was causing many deaths. Legend says that foot binding began in Shang times. Then, all the girl's toes would be broken, folded under her foot, and bound so they lay flat against her sole. The pain of the foot binding process is unfathomable, and if it was going to be done, it would be started when a girl was just five or six years old. 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