why was foot binding outlawed in 1911

began, by chance, in the back of a cab. Her career-long interest is in documenting disappearing cultural practices, and in 2005 she got chatting to a Shanghai taxi driver about foot binding. БHe mentioned that his grandmother had bound feet,Б Farrell recalls. БMost people told me that it was such an old tradition, there were no women left. I went to the village of the cab driverБs grandmother, in the Shandong province, and met Zang Yun Ying. She became the first woman in my project. Б
What followed was a nine-year journey across China, tracking down the last survivors of foot binding. She found just 50 women. Five of them were still completely bound and in hiding, but most had released their binds. All were from impoverished villages in the provinces of Yunnan and Shandong. The oldest, Zhang Yun Ying, was 103. FarrellБs photobook Living History: Bound Feet Women of, contains close-up portraits of the severe deformity they suffered. Foot binding was outlawed in China 103 years ago, following almost 10 decades of the practice. But the last factory producing Бlotus shoesБ Б the triangular embroidered platforms used to showcase the womenБs minuscule pointy feet Б closed just six years ago. To create the desirable Бlotus feetБ, first made fashionable under Emperor Li Yu in the 10th century, women would have their toes taped together tightly into triangular points. The feet were beaten, cast in herbs and oils to loosen the skin and strapped into lotus shoes. After foot binding was banned it became taboo, and in 1950 Chairman Mao ordered anti foot-binding inspectors to publicly shame any bound women they found.


БIt was considered an old tradition that did not reflect modern China and should be stopped,Б Farrell tells me from her flat in Hong Kong. БTheir binding would be hung in windows so that people would laugh at them. Б Most women were bound at the age of seven. БThe first year is particularly excruciating because the girls were made to walk until their toes would break under their weight,Б says Farrell. БAfter that, the toes became numb and now, 50 or 60 years later, they donБt have any pain in their feet. ItБs all quite numb. Б Farrell insists her photo series isnБt meant to sensationalise, but to educate us about a little-known custom. She admits she was surprised by her own reaction to seeing bound feet close up. БThe first time I met Zang Yun Ying and held her foot in my hand it was just incredible Б so soft and so incredibly formed. Б In spite of the brutality the project lays bare, its message is one of hope, survival and grit. БIn Chinese society, it was the only way forward for women,Б says Farrell. БThey did it because they thought it would give them a better future, a better life. Б Practice, also called lotus feet, was a symbol of beauty and status and was started when girls were aged around four Having bound feet was a sign that a woman would be a good wife, as they would be subservient to their husbands By 21:04 GMT, 8 June 2014 12:08 GMT, 9 June 2014 More than 100 years after the centuries-old practice of foot binding was banned in China, these are some of the last living women who were subjected to the practice as children.


Once a symbol of beauty and status, foot binding, also known as lotus feet, was carried out in China since the 10th century, falling out of favour in the early 20th century before it was outlawed in 1911. Now the last remaining women to have their feet painfully bound in order to prevent growth have been photographed as part of a photography project celebrating their lives. The pictures of women, now aged in their 80s and 90s after foot binding continued in rural areas until around 1939, were taken by Hong Kong-based photographer Jo Farrell, who has launched a fund to complete her project. 'Although considered fairly barbaric, it was a tradition that enabled women to find a suitable partner,' Ms Farrell explained on her Kickstarter page. 'Match-makers or mother-in-laws required their son's betrothed to have bound feet as a sign that she would be a good wife (she would be subservient and without complaint). 'A tradition that started in the Song Dynasty, it was originally banned in 1911. It continued in rural areas until around 1939 whereupon women with bound feet had the bindings forcibly removed by government decree. P 'The women in this project are now in their 80s and 90s. P 'In every culture there are forms of body modification that adhere to that cultures' perception of beauty. From Botox, FGM, breast augmentation, scarring and tattooing, to rib removals, toe tucks and labrets. ' The women photographed are all peasant farmers living and working in rural areas, far away from the city life where foot binding was used as a display of social status, as wealthy women who did not need to work would have their feet bound.


The process tended to be started when women were aged between four and nine, before their feet were fully developed and was often carried out during the winter months when the girls' feet would be numb from the cold. Feet were soaked in a warm mixture of herbs and animal blood to soften them and toenails were cut back as far as possible. The toes on each foot were curled backwards and then pressed downwards and squeezed into the sole of the foot until the toes broke. The arch was then broken and the bandages wound around the foot, pressing the toes underneath. The feet would be unbound and washed regularly, when the feet would be kneaded to soften them and the bandages reapplied even tighter. Many women who underwent foot binding were left with lasting disabilities, and missionaries working in China in the last 1800s said the practice should be banned to promote equality between men and women. anthropological studies, and could be used in museum exhibits. P 'This project documents and celebrates the lives of the last remaining women in China with bound feet,' said Ms Farrell, who has spent the past eight years photographing the women. 'In the past year alone, three of the women I have been documenting have died and I feel it is now imperative to focus on recording their lives before it is too late. ' These are some of the most amazing, kind, generous and compassionate women I have ever met. '

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