World Geography Chinese Culture: Foot Binding

Introduction: The Chinese practice of foot binding, though no longer practiced, was an important cultural tradition throughout China for thousands of years. Foot binding was a symbol of chastity, femininity, grace and sensuality; it was also a symbol of oppression, torture, pain and suffering. Directions: Read through the vocabulary words below before reading the article. Make sure you understand their meanings; they are critical to fully appreciate the practice of foot binding. Analyze the pictures, read the article and excerpts and answer the questions at the end of this packet on your own paper. Vocabulary: 1. Concubine: A women who is a secondary wife to a married Chinese man. 2. Gentility: "Of gentle birth" and refinement; of upper-class status. 3. Lucrative: Producing wealth, profitable. 4. Mincing: Walking or moving with short, affectedly dainty steps. 5. Foot binding: An old Chinese custom of wrapping a girl's feet so that they wouldn’t grow. 6. Odiferous: Smelling bad, odorous.

These images represent the results of foot binding. The top foot to the right represents the skeleton of a normal foot, while the middle picture shows a bound foot. The bottom is a skeletal sketch of the results of foot binding.

washed and placed alum on my feet and cut my toenails.every two weeks I changed to new shoes. mother would remove the bindings and wipe the blood and pus which dripped from my feet. mother struck me for crying... bound feet... .In summer my feet smelled offensively because of pus and blood. that night....four of the toes were curled in like so many dead caterpillars. "When I was seven my mother…. facing the bottom of the foot. in winter my feet felt cold because of lack of circulation.ordered me to walk but when I did the pain proved unbearable.my shanks were thin. " Above: Unwrapped. She then bent my toes toward the plantar with a binding cloth ten feet long and two inches wide doing the right foot first and then the left. Each new pair was one to two tenths of an inch smaller than the previous one.. my feet became humped..after several months all toes but the big one were pressed against the inner surface...Above: A side view of a foot that has been unwrapped after being bound for decades.. She told me that only with removal of the flesh could my feet become slender. ugly and odoriferous.my feet felt on fire and I couldn't sleep. She....it took two years to achieve the three inch model. On the following days I tried to hide but was forced to walk on my feet....

The results of the foot binding were highly deformed feet that were extremely painful to walk on. sometime between 960-976 BC. The practice of foot binding lasted far over one thousand years until the Manchu Dynasty was toppled in 1911 and the New Republic was formed. The actual foot binding process began when a girl was between the ages of three and eleven years old. These tiny shoes. the toes actually fell off because the bandages were wrapped so tight that blood could no longer reach them. Then all of the toes. which were called "lotus shoes". The prince forced his concubine to dance with bound feet because he had a fetish with tiny feet. In the upper class of China.The top view of a foot that has been bound for years. except the first toe. The term "Lily feet" was used to describe the tiny feet because they were thought to be very beautiful and a symbol of gentility and high-class. were made of silk and were decorated with beautiful embroidery. Next. Many times. and to keep a woman from "wandering". the arches were broken as the foot was pulled straight with the leg. Foot Binding The practice of foot binding began in the Sung Dynasty. The cloth bandages would be tightly wound around the foot from the toes to the ankle to hold the toes in place. First the inner foot of the child was washed in hot water and then massaged. It is reported that a prince had a concubine who was required to dance with her feet bound. turned under. The purpose of foot binding was to identify women of high-class. The bound feet kept control over the women because the pain was so intense that they could not even walk short distances without assistance. This caused traditional family values to dictate that the feet of young girls should be bound to keep them small. a good marriage would be impossible to arrange if the girl did not have small feet. pressed to the bottom of the foot. and bound tightly with cloth strips which kept the feet from growing larger than ten centimeters or three point nine inches. After about two or three years. the child’s feet actually shrank to the point that they could fit into shoes that were only three inches long. were broken. It was at this time that foot .

com/chineseculture_rdpp. When I married in 1942.htm Date of access: May 26. He had three older sisters and one younger brother. putting them at greater risk of suffering hip or spine fractions. then the binding started. my feet had already become jie fang jiao (liberated feet). My sisters and I endured the pain and gradually unbound our feet. but if they were tied very tightly and changed the natural shape. I walked and walked. many. the Revolutionary Party broke into the unenlightened village. the ones that had had their feet bound were thirty eight percent more likely to suffer from a fall than those who never had their feet bound. my sisters and I cried.1 percent lower hip bone density and a four point seven percent lower spine bone density than women with normal feet. They went to every house and checked and forced the girls whose feet had been bound to remove the strips of cloth. Perhaps a six-year-old girl’s feet were the perfect length for binding. Of those women studied. The members of the Party spread the idea of revolution which included women’s liberation. and causes many other disabilities. my grandmother rebound our feet again. but once the people left the house. many circuits in order to form the binding cone shape and to make the process more efficient. Carrying on the custom from the older generations. my feet were bound when I was six years old. and how it was linked to osteoporosis in China. The study also discovered that the women with bound feet had a 5. They tried to stop men wearing plaits and women’s feet binding. China.. My grandmother took about one metre of white cloth which was woven by herself at home and divided it into three long one-metre strips. My home was located in a small village in Shandong Province. my grandmother unbound my feet and my sisters’ feet.essortment. But when my grandmother rebound our feet. Foot binding mangles the feet of these people.. “Chinese Culture: Foot Binding” ksks. When the feet were unbound. I was forced to push around a big rock used as a mill for grinding. 2002 Foot Binding: Primary Source I was born in 1920. We got rid of the long strips first and wore a pair of very tight cloth socks instead. . because of the pain which was caused by the unbinding. She left my big toe. how painful it must be. A few years later.binding was outlawed. Gradually the feet started to grow again. and folded down the rest of the toes under the sole of the foot and then used the strips to tie it in many layers… You can imagine. The study included women from the ages of seventy to one hundred. Before they came in the house. The suffering is really beyond people’s imagination. With the pain of the feet. The University of California San Francisco did a study that looked at the "prevalence and consequences" of foot binding. it would be more painful and we cried again. My father was a poor peasant. step by step. a six-year-old girl’s feet and how delicate they were.

edu/~jkc1763/fb. unsure steps of a woman with lotus feet were considered very feminine. 2002 Foot binding and sexuality: To parents. They are much smaller than average. In addition. These women would end up suffering trying to work in the fields tottering on their bound feet.njit. 79.7 metres tall but my feet are only 22 centimetres long.html Date of Access: May 26. Extensive sexual guides specify countless special techniques involving the use of bound foot for sex. It came that foot binding was the only right thing to do for a daughter. Many lower class families who really could not afford to bind their daughters feet. did so an anyway in hopes that she would be able to "marry up" into the middle class. There are some small scars between the instep and the toes. It is sad because there are very few accounts of women who were successful. Beijing (Story told by Mrs Sun Mei Ting and translated by her daughter Ms Li Chao Huang) Foot binding and social status: Foot binding began as a luxury among the rich. The pain has gone a long time ago. The thinking was that the bound foot. The big toe seems normal. A mother was obligated to bind her daughters feet or she almost certainly would never get married. it made the women more dependant on others and less useful around the house. “Women and Foot Binding In China” http://www-ec. Undoubtedly. “Chinese Foot Binding” http://www. This was especially hard on the poor who needed help around the house or farm.angelfire.I used to watch my feet carefully. but the rest of the toes are very flat and folded down under the sole of the foot. the bone of the toes were broken and became inflamed. once it was formed. Mrs Sun Mei Ting. It soon became a prerequisite for marriage. foot binding was "partly powered by a sexual fetish" among Chinese men. the small.com/ca/beekeeper/foot. while the inability to walk long distances helped to ensure the girl's virginity. I am 1. The scars were made when my feet were first bound. could not be unlocked like a chastity belt. due to the loss of labor she would have contributed to the family. so the scars remained until now. The bound foot woman had to walk with all of her weight on her heels and tottered as she walked.htm Date of . since a bound foot woman was largely restricted to her home. I now live in Beijing and enjoy helping to look after my grandchildren and decorating my house with beautiful flowers. having daughters with tiny feet symbolized that her family was so rich that their daughters did not have to work. bound feet became a symbol of chastity. thus elevating the status of the family. as she could not leave home. It was even a just reason for a man to call off marriage if he found out that the woman that had been arranged for him to marry did not have bound feet. This was considered very charming.

6. how it started. the practice of foot binding. It is said that it was impossible for a Chinese mother to love her daughter and her daughter’s feet at the same time. but a big factor was the recognition among educated Chinese . but your answers must be in complete sentences. Include specific information on who it was done to. yet they did it anyway. Read the following commentary: “Foot binding survived sporadic reform efforts and lasted well into the 20th century. 1. by whom. Lily feet were considered extremely beautiful and sexy by the upper class and high society. and when it was discontinued. Why? 4. it wasn't stamped out in some parts of the country until the 1930s. Reflect on why only women – not men – had their feet bound. Is there anything that you can think of in modern American society that mirrors this practice? Explain. how. Would you bind your daughter’s feet? Why or why not? 5. Summarize. 2. what their rationale was. You do not need to copy down the questions. in 1 – 2 paragraphs. Though outlawed in 1911 around the time China became a republic. Imagine that you are a Chinese mother. Why do you think this is so? What does this say about ancient Chinese society? Do you think these values reflect modern society – why or why not? 7. What do you think this means? 3. Chinese mothers knew the pain and suffering that they would cause their daughters by binding their feet. 2002 Assignment Answer the following questions on your own paper. The "natural foot" campaign succeeded in part because of the improving status of women in Chinese society.Access: May 26. yet some considered it torture.

Anti-foot-binding campaigns could be quite cruel in their own right. and why? . But the aim was achieved. with tiny-footed women forced to abandon their bindings. foot binding is unknown in China today. It now survives only in the West.that the West considered the practice barbaric.” Write a 1 – 2 paragraph response to this statement. in the form of spike heels. What do you think. which often proved scarcely less painful than binding in the first place.