Chinese Footbinding
By: Demitra, B-Period
Alex, C-Period
Ali, F-Period
Georgia, G-Period

Subtopics:

  • Process of Footbinding
  • Lotus Shoes
  • The Reasons Behind Footbindong
  • The Health Problems and Risks Related to Footbinding

Final Copy Intro (Demitra Michaelidis)

Footbinding could be looked at many ways, it could be looked at as torture or it could be looked at like a twisted form of love. Here is some info to help you decide!

Process of Footbinding (Alex McDevitt)

The process of footbinding was a grueling, painful and long process. It would begin when a girl was just around ages four to six so that her feet would not have time to develop an arch. The painful process would be done by the young girl's mother, in late fall or winter so that her feet would be numb and it would have less pain. First, the daughters foot would be soaked in warm water or animals blood with herbs. Then, the toenails would be cut as short as possible so they would not grow into the skin. Then she would recieve a massage by her mother, and then the mother would go ahead and break the four smallest toes. Then, the toes would be wrapped and pulled back as far as possible to the heel. The bandages would be changed every two days for around ten years.
external image child.jpgexternal image 516880349_3a766b73ea.jpg
The process of footbinding(above) Final product of the process(above)

Lotus Shoes (Georgia Zimmerman)

Despite the difficulties we observed, women with bound feet did have greater difficulty preparing meals, walking, and climbing steps. Many people believe that foot binding occurred to make women weaker so men could rule over them.
The Lotus shoes were crafted out of silk and decorated with vibrant colors and patterns. Although they were very hard to walk in, the shoes looked fantastic and enhanced the girls' feeling of wealth when worn. When foot binding was banned, so were the lotus shoe factories.
The last factory to mass produce was Zhiqiang factory in Harbin, China. When foot binding was abolished in 1911, factory workers had to resort to making other foot-ware products. With having bound feet, whether from wearing the lotus shoes or not, a host of diseases and disabilities occurred.

"Every pair of small feet costs a bath of tears." ~Unknown
external image 2007-7-12-feetone.jpgLotus shoes

The Reasons Behind Footbinding (Ali MacDonald)

The reasons behind footbinding were solely to achieve beauty and high status. When poor women had their feet bound, they would feel wealthy if they had beautiful lotus shoes with small, bound feet inside.
A women had many reasons for putting herself through the pain and health problems that were caused by footbinding. For one, a women was not permitted to marry a man if the man's mother discovered her feet were not bound.
Therefore, if a women's feet were not bound, she could expect to be lonely for the rest of her life. Another reason would be the many legends behind the practice. One legend was about a Chinese empress who had a club foot.
She wanted to be the most beautiful women throughout all her land, so she enforced the law of footbinding upon her people, so that they would have deformed feet as well. Besides the beauty and status factor, women were at times forced to bind their feet because
men did not want women to be able to accomplish anything physically. When a woman's feet were bound, she could not do very many things, thus disabling her to do anything physical that a man could do. Overall, women with bound feet, although in a much greater amount of pain than women without bound feet, (who were extremely rare and would have been arrested), carried a bigger confidence because they believed they were truly beautiful and being worthy of their culture.
external image 11grayfe.jpgA chinese women with her feet bound wearing lotus shoes.


The Health Problems and Risks Related to Footbinding (Demitra Michaelidis)



Foot binding was a very painful process that seemed necessary to any women who would like to be married in their future, but many did not realizes the long term effects of foot binding. Women with bound feet were almost completely crippled, because of the many health problems and risks related to having bound feet. Many girls never got to experience these problems because 1 in 10 girls died within the first few days of having bound feet due to shock. The other 9 out of 10 girls would face even larger problems a the foot binding process continued. If the bandages on the girls feet where wrapped around too tight, it could cause blood poisoning. Also due to the lack of circulation in the feet, flesh would rot of and their toes would ooze puss. If the girls did not manicure their feet properly, their toenails would grow into their feet causing infection. Women with deformed feet were far less able to walk, squat, or work in fields, which were very necessary skills in China. Although many girls with bound feet had complications due to foot binding early on, some girls did not have any problem until they were older. A test shows that out of 193 women in Beijing (93 were 80 years and older, and 100 were between the ages of 70 ad 79 years), 38% of the women in the 80 age group and 18% in the 70 age group had bound feet deformities. Women in the 80 year group were more likely to have fallen in the previous year than women with normal feet (38% verses 19%). Also, they were less able to rise from a chair without assistance (43% verses 26%). Lastly, women with bound feet were at greater risk from suffer of spine or hip fractures.
external image Bound_feet_(X-ray).jpg(X-ray of bound feet)


Sources


  1. http://www.angelfire.com/ca/beekeeper/foot.html
  2. http://www.csuchico.edu/~cheinz/syllabi/asst001/spring99/wise/
  3. http://www.docguide.com/dg.nsf/PrintPrint/9E4410BFF2CF4FBA85256545006B9158
  4. http://shoes.about.com/od/footwear/qt/foot_binding.htm
  5. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=8966942
  6. http://www.alternativelook.net/chinese-foot-binding/
  7. http://testserver.semantic-mediawiki.org/wiki/Foot_binding
  8. http://www.sfmuseum.org/chin/foot.html