Saturday, September 19, 2015

Patented torture -- Lotus shoes

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Reader beware – This post contains difficult reading.

On the dark side of the history of shoes and fetishism, and on the radically opposite end of patented soles designed to provide added comfort or cushioning, for example…lies the Chinese Lotus shoe, a shoe designed to accommodate the Golden Lily, a euphemism for a woman’s bound foot whose growth was stunted, using the ancestral techniques and rituals of foot-binding.

Foot binding consisted in folding the foot’s four toes under the sole of the foot to fashion a cone shaped foot with the big toe at the tip. The binding rituals were initiated, on little girls by their mothers, between the ages of 3 to 5, until permanent results were obtained. Tightly bound with toes folded under the foot’s sole, foot growth was thus reduced in length to a tiny 3-inch foot, a process causing excruciating pain, and irreversible damage to structural and neurological integrity, resulting in an impossibility to both stand and walk normally, in other words, permanent crippling.

The practice is purported to date back to the beginning of the 10th century. It was outlawed in 1949, by Mao Zedong on the still questionable grounds that such crippled women were incapable of participating in the labor force….  The codes of shifting lineage, symbolic castration, subjugation, suffering and obedience, subsumed in the practice, are well analyzed in the feminist literature (e.g.; Kristeva, 1974).

As for Lotus shoe patents, below you will find CN204292721U titled Lotus feet foot mold, granted this year, on April 29, 2015, by the Republic of China...

The English version of the abstract is basically unintelligible and slightly obscene with its references to “paws” and “eating toe”. Thus, the Chinese Abstract is  included, at least for the greater understanding of those who are literate in Chinese.

The patent figure drawing No. 2 of the Lotus foot, depicting characteristically curled toes is included, as well as an image (above) of a pair of  fashionable ancient Lotus shoes, and the book cover drawing (above) of the Urizen Edition of Kristeva’s book About Chinese women (1974)

CN204292721U Abstract - in Chinese
CN204292721U - Figure 2

CN204292721U – Lotus feet foot mold (English Abstract)
 Filed 12-18-2014 , granted 04-29-2015…
The utility model relates to a three-inch golden lotus foot module, including foot handle, heel, paws and five toes, the five toes including big toe, food toe, toe, toe and nameless little toe, the big Hallux provided at the front paws, the food toe, toe, toe and little toe nameless successively disposed below the paws, paws in the heel set up the back-end, the foot above the handle provided in the heel, the said paw width decreased from the heel to large hallux at the big toe is slightly larger than the width of the front of the width of the paw. The three-inch golden lotus foot mold stable overall solid structure, modeling realistic, by eating toe, toe, toe and little toe nameless provided at the bottom of the paws, so as to reduce the width of the front paws, and to better match the existing The bound feet foot, to choose shoes convenience.

Kristeva, J. (1974) About Chinese women Translated from French by Anita Barrows. New York, NY: Urizen books

O’Keefe L. (1996) Shoes: A Celebration of pumps, platforms, sandals and slippers, boots, mules, sneakers and more. New York, NY: workman Publishing

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