RTI Radio Taiwan InternationalRTI Radio Taiwan InternationalA history of foot binding in Taiwan

  • 27 February, 2021

At the beginning of the year, the National Taiwan Museum sent me a day planner filled with photos of curiosities from its collection. My friends at the museum tell me these historic artifacts and natural specimens will all be going into a big new exhibit long in the making that will open this weekend. There were a few items, though, that attracted my attention, and the museum’s researchers have been kind enough to humor my curiosity about one set of items in particular. These objects tell the story of a practice once common in Taiwan that would be unthinkable today—footbinding. From the age of five or six, girls would have their feet wrapped in increasingly tight bandages that forced the toes downward beneath the soles and stunted the growth of their feet. By adulthood, their feet would be tiny, hoof-like stumps—the smaller, the more worthy of praise according to the beauty standards of the time. Today, Associate Museum Researcher Li Tzu-ning is here to talk about this famous or infamous practice and the objects from the museum collection that tell the story of its demise.