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Chinese foot binding and shoes - Essay Example

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Chinese Foot Binding and Shoes Shoes in ancient China kept women’s feelings displayed as well as hidden simultaneously. The intricate patterns of embroidery became a means of cultural expression and refinement for all classes of women in general and for the elite women in particular…
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Chinese foot binding and shoes
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Download file to see previous pages It so happened typically during the 17th and 18th centuries. In the commercial production age, shoe designing and embroidery were considered to be genteel work of the women. The unique designs produced by the elite women reflected the refinement of their culture. Shoemaking was a regular activity for women. The task of sole making was assigned to the servants while the task of designing and embroidering the shoe was taken by the mistress. The mistresses carefully chose color combinations, fabrics, and designs for the shoes. Respectable women were unlikely to buy shoes from the stores. Girls were made to start wearing smaller shoes when their feel approached approximately 4 inches in length. A custom that was followed in the low-class families in China in the late 19th century was to bind the elder daughter’s feet for she would be brought up as a lady. The feet of the lady were supposed to be small and pointed as these features were included in the definition of beauty. The narrow and tiny feet of these ladies symbolized beauty and played an important role in making their gait more dainty and feminine. Fixation of the measurement and shape of the foot was a factor that established the bound feet’s beauty in the lyrical tradition. ...
The Goddess of the River Luo received lyrical attention. Cao Zijian, the third century poet praised her beauty in these words, “She drifts airily like whirling snow in streaming wind… Examine her closeup And she is dazzling as lotus emerging from limpid ripples… She treads in patterned Distant Roaming slippers…” (Zijian cited in Ko, 2001, p. 30). This poem was a great source of inspiration for other poets as well as artwork in China. The silk slippers that helped the Goddess of the River Luo tread across the water were made the metaphors not only for the feminine beauty but also for the sexual appeal of the women. In addition to these literal characteristic features of the feet defined as beauty, there was also a sociological dimension of the definition of beauty. In ancient China, the eldest daughters of the families were not expected to work. It is important to note here that the practice of foot binding in the Chinese society started from the elite class and spread to approach the low classes; “It remained primarily an elite upper-class practice until the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, when peasant daughters began to emulate it in growing numbers” (Ko, 2001, p. 12). The definition of beauty in the light of this fact was to symbolize wealth and opulence in addition to femininity and daintiness that came with the change of gait. The acute arches over the smaller looking feet were like fists of flesh that appealed to men sexually. The practice was hence passed down to generations to beautify the girls for marriage. The bound feet of women became a hurdle in their movement, thus their tendency to work outside their homes was substantially reduced. This was also interpreted as an emblem of beauty ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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