I have 2 pairs of antique hand embroidered Lotus shoes framed hanging in my house (see below). I was and am intrigued by the history of these shoes. I bought these at an antique shop in Thailand. Not only are they hand made, unique and very beautiful, it reminds me of the endurance women have to go through all over the world. The tradition of foot-binding is tied up in issues of beauty, marriageability and sex. With their feet bound, women walked with a "lotus gait" that tightened their pelvic muscles. "The men said it was like always making love to a virgin.
These lotus shoes below are 4 inches long = 10 cm!!
For over a thousand years, Chinese women's beauty was judged by the size of their feet. the ideal foot was 3 inches long!!, and shaped like a lotus bud. Few women achieved this ideal.
Foot binding began for most girls at about 6 years of age, and they would wear the bindings for the rest of their lives. Over 90% of women in china bound their feet, including women from all classes and regions. A woman spent many hours making and embroidering her own shoes. She needed sixteen pairs of shoes before her wedding, four for each season, including sleeping slippers and red special occasion shoes.
Typically, a matchmaker carried one shoe to her prospective mother-in-law, rather than a portrait. If the shoe was small, she was judged to be obedient and able to withstand hardship. If the needlework was fine, she was considered to be self-disciplined and skillful. they have wonderful embroidery, mostly with flowers, but a few with dragons.
In the 1920's as Chinese women became more aware of western fashions, binding began to fall out of favor in some circles, especially in Shanghai. In 1949, with 'Liberation' it was outlawed! (Thank Goodness!!)
These shoes are reminders of the extremes women went to in order to look beautiful. They are also beautifully crafted examples of Chinese women's main creative outlet for a thousand years.
Although foot binding is not allowed anymore, there are still older women alive today that have feet that are bounded, since you can't walk normally on these deformed feet anymore!
This is just one example that women had to go through for beauty and old traditions....
Do you know a great example like this in your country of old traditions that do not exist anymore??
Have a great week ahead!