Sunday, March 04, 2007

Bound Feet

I watched a program on TV years ago that documented an artist. She knew that a generation of women who were enslaved in the South were dying away, and she wanted to document their lives. She did so in an unusual way. She made clay replicas of their hands and feet. She didn't need to tell their story. The years of toil and struggle had left their mark, and their wordless stories were told in the viewing of her art. Beside each piece she had a picture of the women, their age, and where they had lived.

I always remember that program when I think of the bound feet women in China. They are a dying breed of woman. Small feet were desired those many years ago, and the best foot binders could achieve a size of a two inch shoe. Their shoes were beautiful. The women would hand-make their shoes, and they were elaborately decorated with gorgeous stitchery and delicate designs. But underneath that beauty was a twisted, distorted and disfigured foot that effectively left these women crippled. It was all done in the name of beauty, and was forced on girls at a very young age. But it made them observers, and as a result, these women are a wonderful resource of information about life in China in the early 1900's.

I wish I could be an artist for just a few months, and shape the feet of these ladies out of clay. With their hand-made shoes sitting alongside. Of course there should be a picture, and a small amount of information about where they lived. But just like the feet of those slaves years ago, these feet tell a story. One that is passing into the history books as I write. I hope someone is writing them down.


Carmi said...

Me too. It frightens me to think that history can fade into oblivion if we don't try to preserve it. It frightens me to think of what we lose if we allow this to happen.

Of course, this entry forms another root in the battle to keep these stories alive long after those who experienced them are gone. The blog as archive...

Stacy said...

What a good thought. Wouldn't it be nice to have a collection of historical stories from blogs? Stories passed down from families... I love stories anyway. :)