Chinese Cinderella

Hi everyone,

In novel studies this term we have been reading Chinese Cinderella. It is about an unwanted Chinese girl and her struggle to prove her worth. The book had many aspects of Chinese culture. We researched Calligraphy and Foot Binding. We found some really interesting information we’d like to share.

Calligraphy is an ancient Chinese tradition. In China, Calligraphy is considered the highest level of art. Unlike any other writing it is thought to be better than a painting or sculpture. Calligraphy has been done since 3000 years ago and at first was done on large animals shoulder bones or turtles shells which  was called shell and bone script. Calligraphy is a thing that is done using a bowl of ink, a brush and often a bowl of water if they had access to it. In China calligraphy used to be done with paper made of rice or hemp. Calligraphy has evolved and the modern version of it is sometimes called Hand Lettering. Hand Lettering is a way of making writing aesthetically pleasing.  It can include flourishes,accents and embellishments.  

Foot binding was a popular tradition in China. Young girls from the ages four to nine had their feet bound. Most binding was done during the Winter, as the coldness numbs their feet so they feel a lot less pain. They bound it by breaking every toe except the big toe and then folding it under the sole of their foot. Someone (parents even did it)  then broke the arch of the foot and their feet were then compressed with bandages to keep the form of their modified feet. One of the reasons foot binding was done was because people found it attractive if women had their feet bound. It also showed the family’s high status and that those women didn’t need their feet to work, so they were really important.

There are many health issues with binding feet. The main problem with binding feet was the infections caused by it. The women’s toenails would often grow inwards, causing infection in the foot. For this reason, some girl’s toenails were taken off altogether. If the infection in the feet and toes entered the bones, it often resulted in the arch softening even more and whole toes dropping off. This was actually seen as a good thing, as it meant that the foot could be bound even tighter. Because of the tight binding on the feet, circulation to the toes was mostly cut off and any toe injuries were unlikely to heal and the flesh sometimes rotted. Foot binding became very popular back then in China, women who didn’t need their feet required in their job and who were wealthy most of the time got their feet bound.  

By: Sienna S, Tara, Natalya, Jaemi L and Alice

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