Lotus Bound Foot Silk Slipper
Hand embroidered Chinese silk slipper.
Foot binding was the Chinese custom of applying tight wrappings to the feet of young girls to modify their shape and size. The practice possibly originated among upper class court dancers during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period in 10th-century China, then gradually became popular among the elite during the Song dynasty. Foot binding eventually spread to most social classes by the Qing dynasty and the practice finally came to an end in the early 20th century. Bound feet were at one time considered a status symbol as well as a mark of beauty. Yet foot binding was a painful practice and significantly limited the mobility of women, resulting in lifelong disabilities for most of its subjects. Feet altered by binding were called lotus feet.