three-inch golden lotus | Ancient Chinese Culture

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Three-inch Golden Lotus

Three-inch golden lotus refers to the ‘ideal’ length (three inches long) of a perfect foot of young girls and women in ancient China. Bound feet are regarded as “lotus”.

The history of foot binding can date back to the period of Sui Dynasty (581~618). In Song Dynasty (960~1279), it was quite popular and widely spread. At that time, it is generally believed the little feet were the most beautiful. Women also viewed foot binding as a kind of virtue. However, in order to get the three-inch long foot, they had to bear the sharp pain.

Based on the size, bound feet can be divided into different grades of “lotus”. Ferrous lotus is the feet of more than four inches. Four-inch feet are called silver lotus. Three-inch golden lotus refers to three-inch feet, which was regarded as the most beautiful feet at that time.

In ancient times, girls began to bind their feet at the age of five or six. They were often forced to bind feet by the mothers or the grandmothers. Ignoring the crying of their daughters or granddaughters, they usually used the long cloth to bind the toes to the arch. The binding even involved breaking the arch of the foot.

The custom of foot binding not only reflects the unique aesthetic standards of ancient China, but also represents that at that time, men are more superior to women. Therefore, women had no choice but to conform to meet some ideal image of what a man preferred.

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