5 / 1999

Mongolia * Ladies' bound-feet shoe

Historically, Mongolian culture was strongly influenced by Chinese customs, as over the centuries rulers traded places from China to Mongolia and vice versa. Hence the custom of breaking and binding women's feet, which spread into Korea, Japan, Indonesia and Tibet too, came into practice also with well-to-do Mongolian families. The Mongols are nomadic herdspeople covering an area of about twenty times the size of the Benelux countries, with 1.5 million people living in "Juhrta's", traditional felt covered tents. Materials for shoes were therefore mostly home-made and rough, yet very colourful and decorative. Chinese women made their shoes mostly with heels to make their feet look even smaller. Mongolian women preferred a flat execution, since they had to move around much more. Constructionwise they were made similar to the "lotus"-shoes.

Research and text by : W.A.H.M. Habraken-Oosterhout-Holland
Illustration by : Colin Ball - Waalwijk - Holland