Not currently on display at the V&A

Pair of Shoes

1850-1950 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Pair of identical shoes for women with bound feet, in self-patterned mauve silk embroidered with a stalk-and-flower motif in green, beige and mauve silk. The shoes have V-shaped black silk satin vamps, and arched wooden soles covered in black satin and embroidered with a stylised flower-head motif in blue silk. Part of the upper soles on either side are bound with a length of woven ribbon in light-green, mauve and blue. There is a small transverse piece of blue satin plus a white ribbon binding joining the two sides together just above the toes. Each shoe has a large tab of red cotton secured to the heel and is lined with mid-blue plain cotton.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 2 parts.

  • Shoe
  • Shoe
Materials and Techniques
Silk, cotton and wood with embroidery
Brief Description
Pair of women's for bound feet, of silk, cotton and wood, China, 1850-1950
Physical Description
Pair of identical shoes for women with bound feet, in self-patterned mauve silk embroidered with a stalk-and-flower motif in green, beige and mauve silk. The shoes have V-shaped black silk satin vamps, and arched wooden soles covered in black satin and embroidered with a stylised flower-head motif in blue silk. Part of the upper soles on either side are bound with a length of woven ribbon in light-green, mauve and blue. There is a small transverse piece of blue satin plus a white ribbon binding joining the two sides together just above the toes. Each shoe has a large tab of red cotton secured to the heel and is lined with mid-blue plain cotton.
Dimensions
  • Width: 7.8cm
  • Length: 23.5cm
  • Height: 13.5cm
Marks and Inscriptions
Credit line
Given by the Beverley Jackson Collection
Object history
Shandong-style.



Description at accession:



"Good, faded on one side, back binding slightly rubbed especially where transverse blue binding goes across.

Across bottom of soles 13cm



Shoe, for a woman's bound foot



China, 1850-1950



Shoe of mauve silk, with a pointed toe and curving instep and sole, tailored with tiny hand stitches.



The self-patterned mauve silk is embroidered in green, white, beige and mauve with a flower sprig on either side of the shoe. The top edges of the shoe are bound in bias-cut black satin which is also used to cover the wooden sole. Part of the upper sole on either side is bound with a length of woven ribbon binding joining the two sides together just above the toe. A large tab of red cotton is secured to the heel of the shoe to help ease the shoe on. The sole is quilted at the toe and heel ends and, where it arches in the middle, there is a small embroidered stylized flower-head motif in blue silk. The shoe is lined with mid-blue plain cotton.



This shoe, together with its pair FE 49:2-1999 and another pair FE:48-1999 were given to the museum by a collector of such shoes, Beverly Jackson, who wrote a book on the subject (see FE:48:1-1995 for details). the pair FE:49-1999 appear on the front cover of her book and she gives an anecdote about the picture in an email. She bought this pair from the London-based dealer of Chinese textiles, Linda Wrigglesworth - they were her first purchase and she feels she paid a lo for them then. Ms. Jackson believes FE 49-1999 are in the 'northern style' though there is very little basis for making such judgments."



According to Dorothy Ko, this pair's downward toe, straight shaft, and curved wooden sole covered with fabric are characteristic of Shandong shoes.
Bibliographic References
  • Dorothy Ko. Every Step a Lotus: Shoes for Bound Feet. Berkeley, Los Angeles and London: The Bata Shoe Museum/University of California Press, 2001
  • Beverly Jackson. Splendid Slippers: A Thousand Years of an Erotic Tradition Berkeley: Ten Speed Press, 1997
  • Glenn Roberts and Valerie Steele, The Three-Inch Golden Lotus: A Collection of Chinese Bound Foot Shoes. In: Arts of Asia vol. 27, no.2, 69-85
Collection
Accession Number
FE.49:1, 2-1999

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record createdApril 11, 2000
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