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Shoe - Artifacts

Image Shoe
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A black shoe for bound feet, made of cotton. The shoe has a lozenge-shaped flap behind the heel, made of blue satin on cotton backing; most of this blue satin is now frayed. The heel and sole section is made of white or beige cotton. A black silk or satin edging reinforces top for 2/3rds of its length. Hand-made. Fabric is faded, back flap torn, a part missing; black fabric has small insect (?) holes. Mate of shoe not in collection. Such tiny shoes were worn by many women of the Han Chinese majority, (Western Han: 206 BC - 8 AD, Eastern Han: 24 AD - 220 AD) who had their feet deformed in childhood. Inside the shoes the feet were kept tightly bound, using layers of bandages and broad ribbons. This painful custom was in accordance with the ancient Chinese ideals of beauty, small feet being regarded first as a mark of high birth, and later as erotic. This custom was practiced as late as the 1930's.
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