It's Show and Tell Friday over at Kelli's House! (I feel like I'm in first grade--- me first, me first! I have been wanting to share this for a while now ;) I truly enjoy visiting everyone's blogs and seeing their treasures. So, without further ado.....
Foot binding began around the 10th century sometime during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD). For decades Chinese mothers would begin the brutal, agonizing ritual of breaking and binding their daughter's feet, around the age of six or younger, for two years or more. The mother's goal, 3 inch Lily's and a high bride price. The daughter's reward, a husband -- from a good family. Over 90% of the women in China spanning over four decades participated in this practice which some have called barbaric. However, a mother knew her daughters only hope of a future was to procure a good husband. A man's mother searched for a young girl who possessed perfect 3 inch Golden Lily's. A prize to hold in the palm of his hand. A symbol of honor for the husbands family. Foot binding was banned in 1911 even though many continued the custom behind closed doors. Women were also ordered to unwrap and cease binding their feet but old customs die hard. There are now only a few of these women, with life long disabilities, still living in obscure villages around the country. A thousand years ago men in China coveted the prized Lotus feet..... now it is a faded memory.
I hold a certain interest in this cultural practice.... Or rather, the lives of the women and the bondage that enslaved them. This combined with my love of antiques took me on a search for these tiny curiosities which truly can be held in the palm of your hand. While in China this last time my friend and I scoured antique shops in search of these "lily" or "lotus" shoes each carefully handmade with intricate and delicate embroider, most of the time by the wearer. While searching for these tiny wonders store owners would ask "Why you wanta ol' shoe... we get you anew!" New versions of these shoes could be found ever where. They didn't understand our love of "old" things and the history behind them. Our effort was not in vane and Nancy and I came home with 4 pair of these exquisite shoes. Why did these women endure and subject this horrendous act on themselves and their daughters? What was the reason? It's an amazing subject.... but I just wanted to share with you some of my collection.
There are many interesting articles and books on foot binding in China. I own "Splendid Slippers" by Beverly Jackson which is a splendid book indeed. Full of countless, beautiful, colorful photographs this book not only educates on the history, practices and methodology of foot binding but Jackson weaves an enchanting story of a young girl's life who suffers through this foreign custom. It will leave you with a deep compassion for these women and a yearning to know more. And now I just feel like I wrote a book review... ohhhhh On to my Splendid Slippers! The above dainty pair of pink satin slippers are adorned with elaborate needlepoint flowers and are all of 3 inches in length.... feet this small were cherished and called Golden Lotus'.... I wonder....was she a cherished bride?
A 5 inch pair of soft magenta satin and silk embroidered slippers with tiny blue flowers which once held a woman's feet. I actually found these in Guangzhou. From the research I have done these were sleeping slippers. Whose feet did they cover..?
The bottom bears the careful needlework these women dedicated their time to mastering....did she ever know happiness?
This pair was probably after the ban on foot binding. Many women had shoes such as these made and wore their clothing over them so they looked like normal shoes.... ( Nancy got a red pair) What daily agonizing pain the wearer must have suffered. I am thankful my daughters will never know this torment.
Since it is July 4th ~~~ I am most thankful for my beautiful country and the freedom we so often take for granted.
Also, Happy Birthday Mom!! Thanks for not binding my huge feet and teaching me about music... you are my favorite pianist!!
And Happy Birthday Daddy!! Thanks for teaching me about the Lord. You are my favorite old man! Man, you all are old! (just kidding... ) ( not really, it's true)