Foot binding was practiced in China for 1000 years. Young girls would have their feet wrapped, thus limiting the normal development and essentially crippling them. Today, it is a prominent cause of disability among elderly Chinese women.
Zhou Guizhen who is 86 years old, shows one of her bound feet where the bones in the four small toes were broken and forced underneath the foot over a period of time, at her home in Liuyi village in China’s southern Yunnan Province, 23 February 2007. According to popular Chinese legend the custom was at first adopted among courtesans after a Tang Dynasty emperor about 1000 years ago fell in love with a concubine who wrapped her tiny feet in silk when she danced and the practice soon entrenched itself in the lower classes. It became the ultimate measure of a woman’s beauty and also a condition of marriage and part of bedside repertoire. To mold the so-called “lotus foot” girls’ feet were wrapped at about six years of age, an agonisingly painful process that would break the bones.
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