Friday, July 6, 2007

The Ancient Chinese Custom of Footbinding

I recently read a marvelous book by Lisa See called Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. The story is about two laotong who share their lives with one another.

The ancient custom of footbinding is intimately explored in this book. Footbinding was a practice in which a young girl's feet were tightly wrapped in long strips of cloth, causing her four small toes to break and eventually grow under the sole of her foot. Children were between the ages of 4 and 7 when their mothers and grandmothers began this excruciatingly painful process.

This custom lasted nearly 1000 years, when it was banned by the government in 1911.

There are three basic reasons or theories behind the footbinding practice. First of all, it caused women to be subservient to men, having them to be less independent. Lisa See demonstrated this in Snow Flower on numerous occasions, one of which being Snow Flower's husband carrying his mother on his back as the villagers fled an attacking army. Small feet were a sign of beauty in imperialist China; smaller feet increased the chances of a girl marrying in to a wealthier family. We saw Lily in Snow Flower marry into a family of higher wealth and status because of her beautiful "golden lilies." Finally, a family whose daughters had bound feet were increased in status among their own villages, as the family had the ability to provide for a person who could not work and labor.


To read more, I am providing the following links:


6 comments:

Sophia's Mama said...

Karen that is great info. I may post that on my blog if that is OK so that my family and friends understand a bit more about the practice...

Susan

Karen said...

Oh Susan that is fine...borrow away!

J said...

I read this book earlier this year. I could hardly put it down. The only good thing about this never ending wait is that I am definitely getting my reading/research done. It appears that we have the same (or very close) LID 2/17/06. Let's hope things start to stabilize once we get through November. I really don't want to deal with the Olympics.

Joanne
http://patiencelesson.blogspot.com/

Karen said...

Hi Joanne - we do have the same LID! I, like you, don't want to have to face the Olympics. I can't believe that it is a year away and we are even talking about this! This has been a very, very long process!

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shefali said...

hey hi........can u help me with all the info regarding the reason behing the customs of foot bing their sideeffectz....and every thing as i hav an presentatin to do......:)