The Wierd Tradition of Foot Binding in China

Andrei Tapalaga
Example of the mutilated footPhoto byYouTube/EWU History

In a historic Chinese custom known as foot binding, young girls' feet were firmly bound to stop them from developing, resulting in malformed and noticeably smaller-than-normal feet. From the 10th century until the early 20th century, this tradition was followed, and it was seen as a sign of beauty and social standing.

Beginning in the Song dynasty (960–1279), the custom of foot binding expanded among upper-class households throughout the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). Given that it was regarded as a symbol of riches and nobility, the tradition was especially well-liked by affluent families who wished to demonstrate their rank and reputation. As a sign of femininity and beauty, the practise was also thought to enhance women's attractiveness.
Feet of a Chinese woman, showing the effect of foot-bindingPhoto byWikimedia Commons

Foot binding was a very painful procedure that frequently led to major health issues. Young girls' feet were severely bound with bandages, with the heel pushed inward and the toes curled under. The restraints tightened as the girl grew, breaking the bones in her feet and causing the arch to collapse. As a result, the feet were substantially smaller than usual and malformed, sometimes measuring only three to four inches.

The health of the ladies who underwent foot binding suffered significantly as a result of the procedure. They struggled to walk due to their misshapen feet, which frequently caused chronic discomfort, infections, and trouble standing for extended periods of time.
X-Ray of Woman who has undergone the procedure of Foot BindingPhoto byHistory of Yesterday

Between the ages of four and ten, the girls' feet were shackled. A heated herbal and bleeding combination was administered to the feet to soften them. The in-growth was prevented by peeling the toenails. The toes, with the exception of the big toe, were crushed into the sole of the foot, where they broke and curled under. Then, in order to line the foot with the leg, the arch of the foot was badly broken.

The broken foot was covered with bandages that were three meters (ten feet) long. The bandages were sewn together so that the girls couldn't unwind them.

It was advised that a skilled foot binder complete the foot binding. The parents weren't the best choices because they had too much sympathy for their suffering children and wouldn't bind the girls' feet tightly enough.

Every several days, the feet were untied and cleaned to prevent infection of the wounded feet. Additionally, the rotten flesh was removed. One of the 10 girls died from the illness. The bones might be broken again if necessary to significantly modify the size of the feet. The girls had to walk long distances to further fracture the bones in their feet and to improve circulation.

Foot binding is now universally seen as a cruel and out-of-date practise that represents the subjugation and mistreatment of women. This custom is still carried out in a few isolated regions of China.

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