Exhibitions

For centuries, extreme footwear has signified a woman’s status and identity in Asian cultures. When the Manchu minority came to power in China in 1644 (Qing dynasty, 1644–1911), they forbade their women to bind their feet like the majority Han Chinese, for whom bound feet represented the epitome of feminine refinement and eligibility. Instead, Manchu women distinguished themselves by wearing high platform shoes such as these. They produced a halting gait similar to that caused by bound feet, which was still considered attractive in Manchu culture.