We need to wear shoes to protect our feet every day.Do
you know something interesting histories about Chinese shoes?Follow me,Let's
learn something about it.
Foot Clothing: the earliest shoes and socks
The earliest shoes in China were made by tanned animal
hide. They are the ancestor of leather boots.
In the ancient script engraved on bone and tortoise
shell it depicts a whole animal hide was trimmed and stretched out. This would
indicate that, at the time written Chinese was being formulated, socks and
shoes were both related to leather. In ancient times there was no distinction
between shoes and socks. The ancients would protect their feet by cutting out
pieces of animal hide, wrapping them around their feet, and securing them with
leather thongs. According to archaeologists, this kind of foot wrapping first
appeared in the Old Stone Age.
People in the east and south of China were making
straw shoes using bamboo needles and flax thread. Archaeological finds show
that as early as 7,000 years ago, ancient Chinese had learned to make articles
of daily use from plant fibers.
Many kinds of grass can be used to make shoes. In
ancient times, almost all people across China wore straw shoes, excepting
nomadic tribes. The main difference in mode of this footwear was that people in
the frigid north wore thick straw boots, while those in the hot, humid south
wore straw sandals. Straw footwear was worn by all, whether they were nobles,
men of letters or farmers. Even today, local farmers still weave straw shoes
for daily use and export.
Ancient Chinese also made wooden sandals by attaching
straw ropes to wooden soles.
Silkworm breeding started about 5,000 years ago in
China. In the Shang Dynasty, some 3,000 years ago, people learned how to weave
silk cloth and color it with mineral and plant dyes. The development of
sericulture greatly influenced Chinese shoe making, and colorful silk shoes
gradually replaced straw shoes.
High Heel Shoes in old times
Manchu women's high heel shoes (from 18th to 20th
century) had a concave heel of 10 to 15 cm in the center of the instep. The
vamp was made of silk and embroidered with designed of flowers, birds, and
fruits. These shoes are inconvenient to walk in, but they encourage the swaying
gait of the wearer which was regarded as beautiful and also made the wearer
tower over the others.
The picture on the right shows the Empress Dowager
Cixi's splendidly decorated shoes dripping with strings of pearls.
Traditional Cotton Shoes
Traditional black cotton shoes with white cotton
padded soles have been very popular since a hundred years ago and continued to
be popular in rural areas of China today.
Sturdy cotton shoes (the vamp can be made of silk,
velvet, or quilted cotton for winter days to keep feet warm) go with any fabric
in any season, dressy or casual. They suits for teenage girls, middle age, and
old ladies. They fit any type of foot because they simply take the shape of the
foot they are on.
When I was a child I worn quilted cotton shoes quite
often in winter. My mother made the sole, sewed with linen, stitched together
with many layers of cloth. She bought the vamp from open markets and stitched
it with the sole using a big needle. I miss the soft and cosy feeling of those
handmade quilted cotton shoes. However, they are not suitable for rainy days
due to the material used. Certainly they won't be much of use in England's wet
winter except wearing them as indoor slippers.