Plaster model of left foot deformed by foot-binding

Made:
1890-1891 in Hong Kong
A56882, Plaster model of left foot deformed by Chinese practice of foot-binding, property of Sir James Cantlie,

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A56882, Plaster model of left foot deformed by Chinese practice of foot-binding, property of Sir James Cantlie,
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Plaster model of left foot deformed by Chinese practice of foot-binding, property of Sir James Cantlie, 1890-1891

Foot-binding was a traditional practice that originated among high society women in China, possibly up to 1000 years ago. It involved ‘moulding’ the feet of a young girl, usually aged between three and eleven. This artificially restricted foot growth and was achieved by breaking the bones of the feet and manipulating the toes under the arch. The feet were then bound and repeatedly squeezed in to tighter and smaller bindings and shoes over time. The painful practice was associated with beauty, status and marriage eligibility. It eventually spread through all social classes. Foot-binding was outlawed in 1912, but it continued in more rural areas for years afterwards.

A Dr Rabe in Hong Kong made this plaster model of a left foot. It shows the damage caused by foot-binding. The model belonged to Scottish physician, medical administrator and surgeon Sir James Cantlie (1851-1926). It is shown with a right foot and a tiny pair of embroidered silk shoes (A51770).

Details

Category:
Anatomy & Pathology
Object Number:
A56882
Materials:
complete and plaster
type:
model - representation
taxonomy:
  • visual and verbal communication
credit:
Cantlie, N.