The Practice Of China's Foot Binding

838 Words 4 Pages
The Practice of Chinese Foot Binding

For over 1,000 years the practice of bending and breaking young woman's feet was seen as the ultimate symbol of feminine beauty. The tradition known as “foot binding” originated in China's royal court and spread through the lower classes rampantly by the 12th century. By the rise of the Qing Dynasty, all young women were expected to have their feet bound if they wished to marry. The strange practice was eventually outlawed in 1912, but by then over 3 billion young Chinese girls had irreversibly deformed their feet (McManus).

The practice itself began around the 10th century in the Five Dynasties and Ten States Period (Schiavenza). Many stories exist over where foot binding originated and why, but the most popular tell was about an Emperor and his concubine. It is said that this young women started the practice among the royal court when the Emperor saw her performing a dance on a stage she had crafted into the shape of a lotus flower. While her dancing caught the Emperor's attention, it was really her feet that gained his favor, as she had folded her toes back with ribbons in and attempt to make her feet appear smaller and like a “lotus
…show more content…
Western women became the strongest advocates for ending Chinese foot binding and fought it by producing pamphlets and opening shelters (Montlake). It was also during this time frame that many young Chinese men were being educated abroad in countries such as Europe and North America. When these men returned to China, they supported the abolishment, likely having been influenced by western thought (Schiavenza). The “change of trend” had a very adverse effect of shaming women who had already irreversibly deformed their feet. Many women were also abandoned by their husbands, who now preferred women with natural feet, which were much more beautiful and

Related Documents