University of Virginia Historical Collections at the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library

Western Style Lotus Shoes for Bound Feet

Shoes for Bound Feet in China and for Chinese Immigrants

Leather Lotus Shoes

Western-style leather shoes made for women with bound feet (c.1859-1912). Source: Historical Collections, Claude Moore Health
Sciences Library, University of Virginia. Donated by Addeane
S. Caelleigh, UVA School of Medicine.

Whereas traditional silk shoes were made by the women themselves, using patterns and designs passed down through generations, western-style shoes had to be made by cobblers or in shoe factories.

Although foot binding was officially outlawed in 1912, the practice continued in parts of China until the 1930s or 1940s.  Because Chinese women with bound feet immigrated throughout the world, leather shoes for bound feet were sold wherever large Chinese communities settled.  The international company, Bata Shoes sold brocaded “Mary Jane”-style shoes for bound feet until the late 1950s in Malaysia.  The last shoemaker who made bound-foot shoes in Peking closed his shop in 1998.

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