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Old 05-04-2008, 02:08 AM   #1
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Xiaosui - Jiang gu shi (story teller)

Kaixin has added a new section - Xiaosui - jiang gu shi (storyteller)


When I was young, my father told me about my grandmother’s big feet story. It was very interesting and amusing.

My grandmother was born at the end of the Qing dynasty. In that time women must bind their feet. This was called “san cun jin lian” (three inch gold lotus). ‘San cun’ is three (san) cun (a measure equivalent to an inch). ‘Jin’ means gold, which is expensive and difficult to find. ‘Lian’ means lotus, the woman walks just like a beautiful opened lotus flower swaying in the breeze. The lotus flower grows out from the mud; this signifies that a woman is pure and virtuous.

My grandmother ‘s family was so rich. Her father was a high government officer in the Qing dynasty. So in his family all the women must have their feet bound. However, my grandmother was born with big feet. When it came time to bind them, at the age of 6, it was too painful and she would take the bindings off at night. Her mother was angry at first but my grandmother persisted and eventually won. Her feet were allowed to grow naturally. This posed a big problem for her mother and father. The true test of beauty was the size of the woman’s feet. Big feet were considered ‘nan kan’, ugly. No male of high rank would consider a woman with large feet; he would lose too much face.

My two great grandfathers were both high government officials working in the adjoining provinces of Jiang Su and Ze Jiang. They were good friends and wanted to join their families through marriage. As high families it would have been assumed that the women’s feet would be bound. It was inconceivable that they would not be. The subject of feet obviously never came up while the marriage of my grandmother to my grandfather was arranged.

A bride wore a red veil on her wedding day. At the appointed time, she did not show her face, she lifted her dress a little to show her feet. This was considered the height of eroticism.

My grandfather walked into the bridal chamber and up to his wife who was sitting on the ornate bridal bed. She lifted her skirt and he ran from the chamber in fright.

After a lot of heated discussion, the two families decided that the marriage had indeed taken place and there was no way out without too much loss of face. The bridegroom was told to go back into the bridal chamber and do his duty.

With what must have been a heavy heart he went back into the bridal chamber and approached my grandmother again. My grandmother was an intelligent and astute woman. She was also extremely beautiful. She lifted the red veil. All thought of small feet were forgotten and a long and rich marriage began, with eight children.

My father was one of those children.

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Old 05-04-2008, 08:10 AM   #2
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Thanks for sharing your recipes.
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Old 05-04-2008, 06:06 PM   #3
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And thanks for sharing that wonderful story.
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Old 05-04-2008, 06:54 PM   #4
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That was an enchanting story - thanks so much for sharing it with us!
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Old 05-16-2008, 11:56 PM   #5
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Xiaosui=Kaixin Thank you very much for a wonderful posting. It has been a long time since a thoughtful and exceptional posting has been posted. It has been a pleasure reading your post,s may peace and joy follow you
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Old 05-25-2008, 07:35 PM   #6
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The story is nice indeed, the only question I have how could the broken feet could have been let to grow naturaly?
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Old 05-25-2008, 11:01 PM   #7
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CharlieD, Hi

Strange as it may seem to people in the west, most women wanted to have their feet bound. It was very feminine and showed clearly that you were from the upper class as you did not have to work. I do not agree, of course, and I support my grandmother's decision.


If it was stopped then the feet could never grow to full size and were always deformed in some way. It depended on how long they had been bound.

ouch


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Old 05-26-2008, 11:58 AM   #8
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Still don't understand. It wasn't as if the feet were simply wraped in some bandage, they were broken and folded under. See the picture.
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File Type: bmp Feet.bmp (322.2 KB, 54 views)
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Old 05-26-2008, 06:25 PM   #9
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yes, which is why no woman in China today would consider it. Yet, it was considered normal and desirable for many centuries. A mother would not be caring for her daughter if she did not bind the daughter's feet. It would determine who she could marry.

Like all things, it must be viewed in the context of its time.
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Old 05-26-2008, 06:40 PM   #10
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Oh, I did put a short history of feet binding in Kaixin, in which I noted that the feet were broken. Also why the feet were regarded as seductive when in highly decorated shoes.

I do not defend it, but I do understand why. Women were totally dependent on men, and men found it desirable. It became a deep part of Chinese culture and the capacity to step outside was lost until the influences of the west in the 19th and 20th centuries caused enlightened men and women to question it. It came to an end shortly after the end of the Qing Dynasty.
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