CHINESE WOMEN'S FEETby@scientificamerican


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An American missionary, Miss Norwood, of Swatow, recently described in a Times paragraph how the size of the foot is reduced in Chinese women. The binding of the feet is not begun till the child has learnt to walk. The bandages are specially manufactured, and are about two inches wide and two yards long for the first year, five yards long for subsequent years. The end of the strip is laid on the inside of the foot at the instep, then carried over the toes, under the foot, and round the heel, the toes being thus drawn toward and over the sole, while a bulge is produced on the instep, and a deep indentation in the sole. Successive layers of bandages are used till the strip is all used, and the end is then sewn tightly down. The foot is so squeezed upward that, in walking, only the ball of the great toe touches the ground. After a month the foot is put in hot water to soak some time; then the bandage is carefully unwound, much dead cuticle coming off with it. Frequently, too, one or two toes may even drop off, in which case the woman feels afterward repaid by having smaller and more delicate feet. Each time the bandage is taken off, the foot is kneaded to make the joints more flexible, and is then bound up again as quickly as possible with a fresh bandage, which is drawn up more tightly. During the first year the pain is so intense that the sufferer can do nothing, and for about two years the foot aches continually, and is the seat of a pain which is like the pricking of sharp needles. With continued rigorous binding the foot in two years becomes dead and ceases to ache, and the whole leg, from the knee downward, becomes shrunk, so as to be little more than skin and bone. When once formed, the "golden lily," as the Chinese lady calls her delicate little foot, can never recover its original shape.

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