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Thorough Analysis of Foot Binding in China - Coursework Example

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The paper "Thorough Analysis of Foot Binding in China" states that as a cultural practice which lasted for hundreds of years, foot binding was not all that dissimilar to the use of corsets in order to shrink the torso and waists of women in the Western world.  …
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Thorough Analysis of Foot Binding in China
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Download file to see previous pages Starting in about the 10th century A.D., foot binding gained currency in China and was practiced exclusively among women with an eye to aesthetic beauty.  Seeking to address the mysteries behind the foot binding phenomenon and make sense of a custom which seems appears so foreign to the average Western eye, this essay will conduct a thorough analysis of foot binding in China. We will begin with an analysis of the history of foot binding in China, explore the practice of foot binding and explain how it is accomplished. Finally, we will delve into the reasons why foot binding became such a prominent feature in China and conclude with a summary of our research.
Foot binding is a practice which is culturally specific and unique to the Asian context. Footbinding gained currency in the 10th century A.D. as an aesthetic characteristic sought after by women in China and is an excellent example of the evolution of conceptions of beauty. In China, the “lotus foot” was prized among members of all classes as being a standard of beauty to which many women worked hard to obtain. Accordingly, the foot-binding custom was an incredibly painful process which required years to obtain and was additionally a painful process as well. Some oral historians relate the tradition of bound feet to the Chinese Prince Li Yu from the Sung dynasty and the gracefulness of his concubine Yao Niang. In fact, according to legend, Yao Niang, although not a woman with bound feet herself, had such small feet and walked so gracefully that her gait was one in which people all across China stove to emulate. Another legend discusses the life of the last Empress of the Shang dynasty, beautiful women who were born with a clubbed foot. Due to the stigma associated with such a disability in the era, this Empress bound her foot to conceal her deformity and instructed her husband to make the bound foot mandatory for all girls. By making a bound foot the norm in the kingdom, she thus made her bound foot beautiful and established an important standard of beauty in China. With Mongol invasions in the thirteenth century, they supported the practice of foot binding, allegedly because it demonstrated the inferiority of women to men and fully entrenched sex segregation and gender hierarchies.  Establishing the Yuan dynasty, foot binding became more and more prominent in China and continued for more than 800 years thereafter (Hutchins 2008). ...Download file to see next pages Read More
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