Lotus feet or feet-binding was a ghastly tradition prevailing in China, which is believed to get inspired from a 10-century Chinese dancer Yao Niang, who bound her feet into a ‘’new moon shape’’. She danced on her toes inside a golden lotus which beguiled the emperor Li Yu. Apart from deforming the foot, it adversely affected the gait, producing a sort of sensual movement. Eventually, the art was picked up by many other court ladies and subsequently spread across the country, making it a practice of the elite class. As a result, it became a norm that, a Chinese bride must have a three-inch foot, called the golden lotus; or a four-inch foot, called the silver lotus in order to look attractive to her groom. Anything beyond five-inches was considered ugly and was known iron lotus.
The marriage proposals and prospects were hugely dependent on a girl’s foot length and that’s why desperate attempts were taken to prevent the growth of the feet of a Chinese girl. It was also said that a woman with bound feet would be submissive to her husband, and hence would make a good wife.
To prevent the growth of the feet, at first the feet were washed with hot water and toe nails were clipped short. Then the feet were massaged with the oil and the toes were broken into a triangular shape. After that, the feet were bound by a silk strip that were removed and changed every two days to avoid infections. Extra growth of flesh was cut and girls were encouraged to walk distances in order to strain their arch. After two years the bandages were removed, leaving the feet in horribly deformed condition, with broken bone structure. Beauty comes with pain, and the Chinese took it quite seriously.
The barbaric practice was, however, eradicated and outlawed in the 18th century.