In the village of "Bound Feet" live the last Chinese women suffering from an ancient cruel tradition
In the women's village of "Bound Feet" in China, there are more than 100 women who are suffering from the consequences of an ancient custom when girls broke and bandaged their feet as children. This practice appeared in China presumably at the beginning of the X century. Small feet have been a sign of wealth and high status in the country for about a thousand years. At the beginning of the twentieth century, society considered this tradition backward and it was banned, but it did not go into the past immediately.
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Liuyi village in Yunnan Province is also called the Village of Women with Bandaged Legs. There are more than 100 women from 70 years old who had their legs tied tightly in childhood. The girls had all their toes tied tightly to the foot, except for the big toe, to change its shape. This was popular in rich families, where the heiresses did not have to work and, as a result, there was no need to use their feet. The mutilated legs were called "golden lotuses"in the country.
The legs of girls aged four to nine were bandaged. This was done in winter, so that the low temperature would dull the pain and reduce the risk of infection. During the procedure, the girls ' nails were cut as short as possible, then the foot was bent with such force that the toes were pressed into the sole of the foot and broke, and then a bandage was applied.
The woman's tiny bandaged feet were a symbol of her husband's wealth, because he could afford to keep his wife idle. For girls from poor families, bandaging was a chance to get married profitably, and their parents went for it, despite the pity for their daughters. It was believed that mothers should not perform this procedure, because they would not be able to tighten the bandage tightly enough out of compassion. There was even a proverb: "A mother cannot love her daughter and her leg at the same time."
Now the legs of these women are permanently deformed, the fingers are pressed together, and the skin is dry and cracked.
There are several legends about how the tradition of bandaging feet appeared. According to one version, there was an emperor in China who fell in love with a dancer with silk-bound feet. Another says that the emperor's favorite concubine was a clubfoot and asked him to make bandaging mandatory for all girls in the country, so that her own legs would not be considered ugly.
Many of the versions about the origin of the ritual are associated with dancing. So the women in Liuyi continue to dance and practice martial arts: the village even has a dance team.
86-year-old Zhou Guichen shows off her deformed leg. The bones of all the fingers, except the thumb, were broken and pressed into the foot, and then for a long time "grew" into it under the weight of the body.
Three girls with deformed legs. The photo was taken shortly before the bandaging was officially banned. This was tried several times, but the tradition did not go away for a long time: in 1902, the corresponding decree was issued by the emperor of the Qing Dynasty, and in 1921 — by the new government.
When the Communists came to power in China in 1949, they succeeded in stigmatizing the custom and getting it abolished even in remote rural areas. The last known case of bandaging occurred in 1957.
Keywords: China | Asia | Health and medicine | Old age | Traditions | Customs | Feet | Tin