In Other Shoes – Chinese Lotus Shoes

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Sometimes footwear isn’t just footwear. Sometimes it tells the story of much more – traditional gender roles, power structures, and customs of aesthetics. We’ve described the old Chinese tradition of foot binding on the blog before, explaining why the shoes we display from this region of the world are so small!

Tuxen’s notes on this pair are as follows:

Chinese shoes for bound feet. Given to me on September 26th 1957, by antiquarian Peter Kinch in Copenhagen. The shoes were originally given to Mr. Kinch’s mom in Siam, where she grew up, her father working rice mills.

The shoes are made from embroidered red damask, with a blue hem. The heels are small.

Chinese girls’ feet were bound from the age of 4-12 for about a decade, sometimes longer. Sometimes a small piece of hollow metal pipe was placed under the arch to make the heel bone more vertical. Feet like this were referred to as Golden Lotuses, leaving only the big toe unbound, with the remaining four toes tucked underneath the foot.

-S.L. Tuxen

If you are also into shoes, read more about Tuxen’s collection here!

/ Ciara Coogan


Photo: © 2014 Jacob Due, Photo/Media Department of Moesgaard Museum.

Byline portrait: © 2015 Line Beck,


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