For 1000 years tiny curved feet were considered the ultimate level of beauty in China. During this period around 3 billion women bound their feet.
The most likely origin of the practice is from the time of Emporor Liyu ( 937 – 975 AD). Entranced by the form of the feet of a favourite dancer he had her feet wrapped to accentuate them. Other women of the court who wished to please the emperor also began to wrap their feet. The fashion spread to upper class women and eventually beyond. True to the extremes of fashion smaller feet and tighter binding became desirable, leading to foot binding and 3 inch feet.
The practice was outlawed in 1912, however some continued secretly to foot bind until the 1950’s.
Communism in China meant that women were required to undertake harsh physical labour, so the foot binding became impossible to perpetuate and for the bound woman to survive.
The lengthy and painful process of foot binding was begun when a girl was between 4 – 7 years old her soft, tender bones would be manipulated to bring the four smallest toes to the underside of the foot and to pull the heel and toes closely together. This