Canton: Chinese Small Feet Beauty


ca. 1905


Canton: Chinese Small Feet Beauty
Date Created:
ca. 1905
Original Format:
Within representations of China as an exhausted "lost state," the traditional Chinese woman came to stand as symbol of its decadent decay, and for Chinese reformers, of what they had to overcome to build a healthy, modern nation. As plundered Chinese objects entered Western collections, so did typifying postcards such as "Canton: Chinese Small Feet Beauty." This French postcard was reprinted in a 2001 Beijing Youth News article. It features a hand-colored studio photograph, which stages the woman with her silk-clad bound feet as one among several assembled Oriental objects. The newspaper article, "Deformity beneath a Glorious Costume," introduces a book of postcards produced during the late Qing Dynasty, explaining that these foreign representations of China will give contemporary youth a sense of their civilization’s past "profound grief and bitterness." Vanquished China became equated with exotic images exposing how Chinese culture had deformed its women.
Book Reference:
Introduction, Figure 5, Page 32

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Cultural Context:
Is Format Of:
Shou Xiang, 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, 1998), figure 184.
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