since I couldn't talk, I had the leisure
to watch the eighty or so women, all with
their Manchu head-dresses or their knobby
ones, their gay-colored garments, and some
with tiny bound feet. My mind was fairly
bubbling over with things to say, but instead
I could only nod and smile like the funny
little porcelain mandarins that bob on our
mantels. But they seemed to understand."
Browne Frame, November 24, 1905 (3)
unfortunate Chinese tradition of foot binding
was one that, however severe and painful,
was present for much of the country's history.
The start of the practice can be traced
back to 700 AD, and was not legally banned
binding is said to have started as an indicator
of Chinese class, but as time progressed,
the tradition became more commonplace. Bound
feet were a symbol of beauty in China, and
finding a husband was deemed incredibly difficult
for Chinese women whose feet were left unbound.
as young as toddlers were subject to the
tradition of foot binding. The process
involved wrapping tight bandages around the
feet, preventing normal growth by literally
breaking bones. Aside from severe and unnecessary
pain, foot binding also presented a high risk
of infection, paralysis and even muscular atrophy.
It is therefore clear to see why this practice
was appalling to missionaries who served in
China in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
efforts were made to bring about a drastic
social change that would wipe out foot binding