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September 21, 2007

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A great introduction - thanks :)

Concubines being crippled? I think you're misremembering footbinding. Women with bound feet could walk, and did so. Footbinding was not just done in the palace, it was done everywhere ... except among the Manchus! Manchu women did not bind their feet; only Han women did.

However, the Manchu women coveted the swaying, mincing walk of Han women with bound feet, so they wore special shoes, balanced on tippy little pedestals.

Thanks for your comment, Zora. Your point is well taken. Women with bound feet could walk and carry on the normal duties of living. However, their feet were deformed, and they were hobbled by the deformity, in that they were unable to walk normally or run. Also the deformity caused bouts of pain. NPR has an interesting interview with one of the last remaining women with "lotus feet." And here's an interesting article on the subject from the San Francisco Virtual Museum. Here are a couple of instructive videos: 1) how to bind a foot; 2) bound foot biomechanics. Lastly, some images.

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New Book by Namit Arora

  • The Lottery of Birth reveals Namit Arora to be one of our finest critics. In a raucous public sphere marked by blame and recrimination, these essays announce a bracing sensibility, as compassionate as it is curious, intelligent and nuanced.” —Pankaj Mishra

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