Foot Binding Shoes Comparison


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The first European to mention footbinding was the Italian missionary Odoric of Pordenone in the fourteenth century during the Yuan dynasty. However, no other foreign visitors to Yuan China mentioned the practice, including Ibn Battuta and Marco Polo (who nevertheless noted the dainty walk of Chinese women who took very small steps), perhaps an indication that it was not a widespread or extreme practice at that time. The practice however was encouraged by the Mongol rulers on their Chinese subjects. The practice became increasingly common among the gentry families, later spreading to the general population, as commoners and theatre actors alike adopted footbinding. By the Ming period, the practice was no longer the preserve of the gentry, but it was considered a status symbol. As foot binding restricted female movement, one side effect of its rising popularity was the corresponding decline of the art of dance in China in women, and it became increasingly rare to hear about beauties and courtesans who were also great dancers after the Song era.