Foot binding


Bound feet


Foot-binding has a centuries-old tradition in China, and any girl with aspirations in traditional Chinese society had her feet bound. At the age of five or six, the girl would go to a woman who specialises on foot-binding, who wraps a bandage two inches wide and ten feet long around the feet. The big toe is left free while the other four are forced inwards towards the sole. The bandage is then wrapped tightly around the heel to push the toes under and into the sole, and to bring the sole and heel as close together as possible.


Once the feet have been bound, the bones slowly break, the flesh rots and one or two toes fall off. The end product is a tiny foot that rather resembles a pig’s trotter. This has not stopped such feet from being objects of lust for Chinese men over the years. Foot-binding was banned by the Chinese government in 1911. You will still see quite a few upper-class Chinese women with bound feet in cities, and the practice has not been stamped out in rural areas.