Chine: Chinoise à petit pied


circa 1905


Chine: Chinoise à petit pied
Date Created:
circa 1905
Original Format:
In this postcard, produced by the Belgian company Nels and reprinted in a 2001 Beijing Youth News article about China's colonial humiliation, a woman holds up her bare foot to the camera, exposing its bent shape to a voyeuristic, foreign gaze. The following explanatory text appears below the documentary black-and-white photograph: "The feet of young girls are compressed with cloth bands in order to obtain 'small feet,' which constitute one of the elements of Chinese female beauty." In the full, original postcard (a cropped version appeared in the Beijing Youth News article), the photo of the woman is juxtaposed with one of a "Mendiant Chinois," an elderly man dressed in rags leaning on a cane and holding out a begging bowl. This ethnographic depiction, as part of the popular production of postcards sent around the world, equates China’s traditional female practices with poverty and decay.
Book Reference:
Introduction, Figure 6, Page 32

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Cultural Context:
Is Format Of:
Shouxian, Jiu meng zhong jing: Fang Lin, Bei Ning cang qingdai mingxinpian xuanji [The heavy shock of an old dream: selected Qing dynasty postcards from the collecting of Fan Lin and Bei Ning] (Nanning: Guangxi meishu chubanshe, 2000), figure 183.
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