June 22, 2013
The Cultural Insights of Footbinding
The Chinese practiced foot binding for over a thousand years in the Song and T’ang dynasties. Some people found it very cruel, and then some found it fascinating. The ‘Golden Lotuses’ were the art and symbol for the wealth and beauty of ancient China. For any other culture, one would ask what foot binding is? Or, how did foot binding in Ancient China compare to John Fairbank’s text “Footbinding”? Also, how does the history of ancient China and Fairbank’s text differ and how are they similar? Then, how can foot binding be defended? In this paper, one will be able to understand the cultural significance of foot binding. Foot binding was a mother’s way to prepare her daughter for her future. The mother would start to bind the daughter’s feet between the ages of five and eight, when the feet and bones were still developing. At a young age the daughters were unaware of what their future held, and why their mother put them through so much pain. After the first two years the pain would lessen for the daughters. Constricting the feet to a three inch size was only the beginning of the daughter’s worries. The bound feet required daily care which included; feet being washed and manicured while staying bounded. The mother would be the one who ultimately took care of the daughter and grooming her feet. In Fairbank’s text it says “When I was seven [said one women to Ida Pruitt], my mother… washed and placed alum on my feet and cut the toenails. She then bent my toes toward the plantar with a binding cloth ten inches wide, doing the right foot first then the left. She… ordered me to walk but when I did the pain proved unbearable. The night … my feet felt on fire and I couldn’t sleep; mother struck me for crying. On the following days, I tried to hide but was forced to walk on my feet … after several months all toes but the big one was pressed against the inner surface... mother...
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