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Free «The History of Foot Binding in Traditional China» Essay Sample

According to Janell, 2009, foot binding was a 1000years old Chinese traditional that involved the binding of women and girl’s foot. This tradition sprouted when the Chinese men in the 10th Century began opting for ladies with small foot. The practice went on for over 1000years until the Qing Dynasty came into existence between 1644-1911.Women with bound foot were threatened with  fines during this period, this outlawing of the foot binding practice was further reinforced in 1949 when  the People’s Republic of China was formed. The foot binding was mostly carried out on girls aged between 4 and 5 years, this was so because at this age a persons bones are normally under formed and can be easy shaped(Janell L. Carroll,2007).

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It was worsened when most men began to reject women with small foot as marriage partners. Rupp, 2007, quotes a 70 year old Zhang Ru-Lain woman’s take on the foot binding Traditional and marriage. “Men would choose or reject you as a prospective wife based on the size of your feet. There was a well known saying, if you don’t bind, you don’t marry” (Rupp, 2007).The lady further added that if one was to be rejected because of her big foot, the whole village would know, it thus became so embarrassing. (Janell L. Carroll, 2007).

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Wang, 2000, reports that foot binding was also done as a taboo in the Chinese culture. She adds that this practice became “synonym” of beauty, eroticism, hierarchy and femininity in the Imperial Chinese cultural fixation and fashion. Wang adds that foot binding became the place of identity, honor and the women’s livelihood means. The foot bound women were so protective of their foot and it was only the husband and shoes that touched them. Wang in her analysis of the culture of feet binding refers to the bound foot as “Golden lotus feet” (Wang 2000)

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Carroll 2009, reports that women also bound their foot as it was regarded as sexy in nature. Carroll further reports that women with bound feet always walked in a sexy way. This was viewed as erotic and arousing on the men’s side. It is also reported that the bound foot keep the women is check as they could not  allow them walk over long distances and hence minimized their movements. Statistics show that in the 19th Century about 40 or 50% of all Chinese ladies had their feet bound (Janell L. Carroll, 2007).

The culture of foot binding also had an economic impact to it. Carroll reported that this traditional Chinese culture was mostly practiced by the rich families since they were able to employ people to work on their farms while they stayed at home. But by the fall of the 17th-18th century this changed as the poor Chinese who leaved in the country side also resulted to the practice. The poor Chinese did this because at that time in china only women with bound foot attracted men suitor, they also bound their foot hoping to attract someone from the wealthy class a factor that would enable the riches to flow down from the wealthy and subsequently ending the virtuous circle of poverty among the Chinese poor.

In conclusion,foot binding culture was a symbol of beauty and attracted wealth not forgetting that it became a taboo to the Chinese people not to bind their foot. Despite its being embraced by the Chinese people for over 1000 years it met it death in the 20th century when People’s Republic of china was born backed by the pressures from the  internal Chinese  and western missionaries that led to the forming of the  anti-feet-binding movement. (Jicai Feng, David Wakefield, Howard Goldblatt 1994)


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