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Tocotin
07-29-2016, 09:49 PM
Hello guys,


This is a part medical, part historical question. One character in my story (a historical set in the 1880s) is a young woman who is ethnically Han Chinese and has bound feet. She’s currently living with a Japanese group of performers in the middle of Tokyo. Their lodgings, dressing room etc. are all Japanese style, that is, furnished with tatami mats.


My question is this: Would the life on the floor cause her a lot of discomfort due to the state of her feet, and if so, what problems specifically? I’m aware that walking itself was painful and I can imagine why, but I’m less aware of problems caused by sitting on the floor with bound feet.


In all photos I’ve seen of women with bound feet, they are sitting or reclining, or even lying back, and their feet are often propped up on separate chairs or footstools. Her colleagues are attentive and kind to her. Would it be better if they got a chair for her, and maybe even a bed?


Thank you in advance for any and all answers/comments/suggestions!

link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foot_binding

Siri Kirpal
07-30-2016, 12:00 AM
Sat Nam! (Literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

The main problem is that women were supposed to sit on their heels in tatami rooms. She won't be able to do that. Yes, I think, she'd need a chair.

They'd also have to allow her to wear her slippers on that sort of surface, but Japanese typically remove their shoes indoors. Perhaps she could have a separate pair of slippers for indoor use.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

Tocotin
08-01-2016, 07:10 AM
They'd also have to allow her to wear her slippers on that sort of surface, but Japanese typically remove their shoes indoors. Perhaps she could have a separate pair of slippers for indoor use.


Thank you, Siri Kirpal! Yes, I think I'll have to get her a chair.

By the way, slippers are very new to Japanese culture – people started to use them only around 1910. (In popular fiction you'd probably find quite a few feudal lords and ladies of "feudal Japan" running around in slippers. Slippers and tables in pre-modern Japan are a sign of sloppy research.)

Thank you again! Have a lovely week :)

Bolero
08-01-2016, 03:12 PM
Query - were lotus feet for everyone or just the upper classes? Not been to look, just a check question for you.

Tocotin
08-01-2016, 10:39 PM
Hey Bolero, thanks for the question!

Initially yes, it was upper class women who practiced foot binding, but when it changed from the symbol of status and privilege to the symbol of elegance and beauty, the custom became widespread among almost all classes. During the Qing Dynasty often the lady of the house would let her favorite maid bind her feet, or in poor families only the eldest daughter had her feet bound, so that she could marry well.

The other group of women who practiced foot binding were sex workers, for obvious reasons.

Siri Kirpal
08-02-2016, 12:01 AM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name" --a Sikh greeting)

I was referring to Chinese slippers, not Japanese ones. Chinese women have worn slippers for a very long time. I have a pair from the late Qing. The soles are covered with satin, so they're obviously intended for indoor use. Very heavily embroidered.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

Tocotin
08-02-2016, 08:58 AM
Right, the embroidered slippers. Actually, I have never thought of them as "slippers" myself, that's why I didn't mention them.

Yes, she is indeed wearing one such pair indoors, and they are the first thing about her appearance that the MC (who is Japanese) notices about her. He doesn't know they are shoes, though, and refers to them as "socks".

Siri Kirpal
08-02-2016, 09:47 PM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Ah! I've always called them, and heard them called, slippers rather than shoes. Because bound foot ladies, for some strange reason, didn't go out much. Having them called "socks" is a bit strange, but I guess they do look more like socks than Japanese style sandals.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

SinoFyl
08-04-2016, 03:35 AM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name" --a Sikh greeting)

I was referring to Chinese slippers, not Japanese ones. Chinese women have worn slippers for a very long time. I have a pair from the late Qing. The soles are covered with satin, so they're obviously intended for indoor use. Very heavily embroidered.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

Not only were there slippers for indoor use, but there were slippers for indoor-indoor use. That is to say, women with bound feet often had special slippers for bed that had embroidery covering the soles (obviously not meant to be stepped upon).

Siri Kirpal
08-04-2016, 07:35 AM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Yes, the pair I have are that way, embroidered on the soles. But they're also beaded with carnelian, so I've assumed they won't be used in bed, but when receiving guests.

Interesting to know they were worn in bed too, but it makes sense. Once the feet were bound, they needed to stay that way. Hurt worse when the bindings were removed, I understand.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

Tocotin
08-04-2016, 09:45 AM
Hey guys, thank you for the comments!

As far as I know, ladies with bound feet took off their bandages daily before sleeping, and wrapped their feet again in the morning. Bound feet needed constant care and the bandages washing.

Those beautiful embroidered shoes you own, Siri Kirpal, and "bed shoes" in general, were also an important erotic accessory. Bound feet were considered arousing, and by association feet became considered as intimate parts of a female body. Playing with lotus feet and shoes (drinking wine from them, for example) was a part of erotic foreplay.

(That's why the MC essentially commits a faux pas by looking intently at the young woman's shoes.)

Siri Kirpal
08-04-2016, 09:51 PM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

That makes sense. I may be misremembering, and the problem with the pain may have had to do with trying to undo the damage.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

Tocotin
08-05-2016, 09:46 PM
Yes, it might have been that. I remember reading somewhere that Empress Cixi hated bound feet, and she arranged for her favorite servant (who was Han Chinese) to have her feet unbound as a special feat. I can only imagine how the poor woman must have felt about this particular display of imperial grace.

SinoFyl
08-06-2016, 01:39 AM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

That makes sense. I may be misremembering, and the problem with the pain may have had to do with trying to undo the damage.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

No, actually, I've read there could be pain even when the feet were still bound. Not only aching if stood upon for a period of time, but I recall something about pain and pus resulting from eating certain foods (e.g., certain fish). But, of course, "letting out" one's feet could be excruciating and usually not very successful (depending on how successfully the feet-binding process had been and how long ago).

I'm writing historical novels set at the end of the Qing Dynasty, in case why you're wondering why I'm going on about this.:)

Siri Kirpal
08-06-2016, 02:47 AM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Well, yeah, the whole process was pretty awful & not recommended from the point of view of healthy feet.

My own interest is more than literary. In addition to the slippers I was given more than half a century ago by my parents (who found them in a junk store), my kindergarten best friend had a grandmother she'd never met who had bound feet.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal