Lotus shoes (simplified Chinese: 莲履; traditional Chinese: 蓮履; pinyin: lianlǚ) are footwear that were worn by women in China who had bound feet. The shoes are cone or sheath-shaped, intended to resemble a lotus bud. They were delicately constructed from cotton or silk, and small enough to fit in the palm of a hand. Some designs had heels or wedge-shaped soles. They were made in different styles and colors, and were typically ornately decorated, with embroidered designs of animals or flowers that could continue on the sole of the shoe. Some designs only fit over the tip of the foot, giving the illusion of a small bound foot when worn under a long skirt.
Though foot binding is no longer practiced, many lotus shoes survive as artifacts in museums or private collections.
- Ko, Dorothy (2005), Cinderella’s Sisters: A Revisionist History of Footbinding, Los Angeles: University of California Press.
- Ko, Dorothy (2001), Every Step a Lotus: Shoes for Bound Feet, Berkeley: University of California Press. Catalogue of a museum exhibit, with extensive comments.
- Nicholson, Geoff (2006), Sex Collectors, New York: Simon & Schuster, ISBN 978-0-7432-6587-4.
- Chinese Foot Binding – Lotus Shoes Museum of the City of San Francisco.
- Jackson, Beverly (1998), Splendid Slippers: A Thousand Years of an Erotic Tradition, Ten Speed Press, ISBN 978-0-89815-957-8.
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