Chinese Girl with Bound Feet

The general consensus is that the roots of foot binding lie in the Sung dynasty (960-1279 AD) in China. The general purpose of foot binding was to restrict the growth of the feet so that they would not exceed 3-4 inches as small feet were considered beautiful and elegant. A foot measuring a perfect three inches was called a 'lotus of gold'. The process normally began when a girl was between the ages of three to eleven, the justification being that the pre-bone cartilage of the arch, which was predominantly water, would be more easily molded than matured bone. The mothers or more experienced female relatives who performed the foot binding typically began the procedure in late fall or winter when the foot was generally numb so that the pain would not be so severe. From the Chinese viewpoint, foot binding was not considered mutilation but a form of adornment, an embellishment to the human body. The human body, in Chinese philosophy and medicine was part of a larger organic process of regeneration. The attire and adornment of both men and women forged a link between the needs of human society and universal order, bringing together the world and the spiritual realm of Heaven.

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