The Yangtze Valley and Beyond
An Account of Journeys in China, Chiefly in the Province of Sze Chuan and Among the Man-tze of the Somo Territory
By Isabella Bird
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print Publication Year: 2010
Online Publication Date:July 2011
Original Publication Year:1899
Chapter DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511709234.024
Subjects: East Asian history , Geography: general interest
It was partly to get Sunday's rest in peace and quietness that I put up at this mountain hamlet. I could see to read and write without opening the door, and could move round my bed, and the smells were not so awful as usual. The central shed was full all day, and occasionally the women who came sent a polite request that I would exhibit myself to them, to which I always cheerfully responded.
The “enormous size” of my feet, though my shoes are only threes, interested them greatly. I was much surprised to find that in Sze Chuan, except among the Manchu or Tartar women and those of a degraded class, foot-binding is universal, and that the shoe of even the poorest and most hard-worked peasant woman does not exceed four inches in length. Though in walking these “golden lilies” look like hoofs, and the women hobble on their heels, I have seen them walk thirty li in a day, and some have told me that they can walk sixty easily! Two women came to Hsia-shan-po from a village twenty-seven mountain li away, merely out of curiosity to see me, and returned the same afternoon. The hobble looks as if it must be very painful, and is a sort of waddle also.