12 / 2006

China - Ladies' bound feet lotus shoe "San Zun Jin Lian" - Late 19th Century

For Chinese men, bound feet were associated with higher-status love and sex, carrying strong connotations of both modesty and lasciviousness. Bound feet became a sexual fetish and were said to be conducive to better intercourse. It was accepted that these golden lotuses had developed not only an aesthetic appeal for the Chinese male, but also a sexual one. A wide-spread male fantasy claimed that foot binding produced the development of a highly-muscled vagina "full of wondrous folds", with the tiny appearance of the foot arousing a combination of lust and pity. Chinese pornography of the past reflects a preoccupation with the feet, and the men who adored them - "lotus lovers" - became the authors of the classics of brothel culture that describe in detail the various shapes of bound feet and the erotic practices in which they could be employed. According to Chinese connoisseurs of the golden lotus, the mincing walk necessitated by the bound feet contributed to creating a more voluptuous and sensitive sexual anatomy, and tiny feet were celebrated in poetry and song.

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