The other day I was wandering about at my local art gallery, checking out the latest exhibit. As I perused the contemporary paintings and installation pieces, something caught my eye — a display case with shoes in it!
(Since I didn’t have my camera with me, this is a picture of the same sort of shoe from the Met Museum; click on the picture to go to its page.)
In the display case were several shoes from the Manchu dynasty of China, and what struck me about them (besides, of course, the beautiful embroidered fabrics and workmanship) was the cleverness of the people who invented them! Apparently, the Manchu people did not agree with the then-popular practice of foot binding; but their women still wanted the same sort of swinging step and look that foot-binding gave. So they put these fancy soles on their shoes to mimic the effect. With long enough skirts, their feet appeared bound without actually having to go through all the pain of it. Clever, isn’t it? And who couldn’t love all the embroidery?