Ancient China Foot Binding

Foot binding was a strange and unique thing in ancient China that also was very painful. In ancient China foot binding was important for many reasons including marriage.

Researchers believe that foot binding started in the Tang or Shang Dynasties. Foot binding took place in China until the 20th century when the practice was made illegal.

What was ancient China foot binding?

Foot binding in ancient china was practiced on girls starting at the age of five to seven years old. Parents tucked the young girl’s toes under their feet. They used long pieces of cloth to wrap the young girl’s foot and keep their toes in place.
Ancient China Foot Binding
Foot binding made the tip of the girl’s toes touch their heel. The actions were quite painful breaking all the bones in the young girl’s foot.

For several years following, their feet were continuously broken until the girl’s feet were a perfect shape between three to four inches with a high arch. The perfect shape was known as lotus feet.
Chinese Golden Lily Foot
The process of foot binding made the women barely able to walk during the process. Women wore long dresses to hide their bindings which were covered with layers of socks and perfume.

Who had in ancient China received foot bindings?

Only the women and girls of noble families had foot bindings in ancient China. The action of foot binding did not take place with poorer peasant women and girls. They were needed to be to walk in the in fields while working.

Why ancient China foot binding?

Ancient China foot binding was thought of as a symbol of beauty. The action was to prepare the women for marriage.

When a young woman reached a marriageable age, families of young men came to check the size of the young woman’s feet. A girl with tiny feet was more likely to marry a wealthy husband.

When was foot binding in ancient China outlawed?

Ancient China foot binding continued for centuries until the barbaric practice was scrutinized beginning in mid-19th

Lotus Shoe

during the Taiping Rebellion. When the rebellion failed in later years, Christian missionaries began to handout literature about foot binding which they viewed as torture. The practice of foot binding was banned in 1912 by the new Republic of China.

Although some foot binding continued to take place in more rural areas of the country. By 1929 95% of young girls born after 1910 did not have their feet bound.

Important facts about ancient China foot binding

  • Ancient China foot binding started in either the Tang or Shang Dynasties.
  • Young girls at the age of five to seven years old had foot bindings.
  • Ancient China foot binding was practiced to form the perfect feet known as lotus feet.
  • Tiny feet of three to four inches in length were perceived as a sign of beauty.
  • Ancient China foot binding broke the bones in a young girl’s foot.
  • Only young girls and women of noble family had foot bindings.
  • After 1910, 95% of all Chinese girls did not receive foot bindings.
  • A woman in ancient China with small feet was more likely to marry a wealthy man.


1. When did ancient China foot binding start?

Tang or Shang Dynasties

2. What were perfect feet called in ancient China?

Lotus feet

3. When was ancient China foot binding banned in China?


4. What length were perfect feet in ancient China?

Three to four inches