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Bound feet were considered beautiful, even erotic.

Foot binding was the Chinese custom that started in the Tang Dynasty, 10th century and prevailed for over a millennium. It was a practice first carried out on young girls to restrict their normal growth and make their feet as small as possible. Feet altered by foot-binding were known as lotus feet, and the shoes made for these feet were known as lotus shoes. Small feet were considered an attractive quality; the effects of the process were painful and permanent resulting in disfigured feet making it difficult for women to carry out their daily activities. It was a method that was widely used to distinguish the upper-class girl from others. Later the lower class women started practising foot binding to improve their social prospects. The practice of foot-binding would continue right up to the early 20th century CE.

Origin

The tradition for foot binding is believed to have started in the 10th century by a dancer and consort called Yao Niang. She danced on her toes inside a six-foot-high lotus flower made of gold and decorated with jewels, pearls and silk tassels. She wore silk socks over which she wound long, narrow bands of silk. She was much admired by Emperor Li Yu and as a result, women envied her and wanted to copy her small feet. The binding of feet was then replicated by other upper-class women, and the practice spread across the nation.

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