History of Traditional Chinese Hanfu Shoes

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History of Traditional Chinese Hanfu Shoes
Hanfu shoes have a long history of development. About 5000 years ago, during the Yangshao culture, the most primitive shoes made of animal skin appeared. Shoes were the first tool for people to protect their feet from injury. Later, they gradually became a symbol of people’s identity and status and witnessed many special historical processes.

Brief introduction of Hanfu shoes

In Hanfu, shoes are called Zuyi (足衣, clothes on feet), there are various styles of ancient Chinese Hanfu shoes and boots, and their development has gone through the process from scratch, from simplicity to complexity, from coarseness to precision. From the earliest function of warmth preservation and protection, it has developed into a symbol of identity and status. Through shoes and socks, we can see the integration and progress of the development of Chinese civilization.

History of Traditional Chinese Hanfu Shoes

The earliest shoes came into being with the appearance of fabric materials and the appearance of clothes. In ancient times, the raw materials of shoes were grass, linen, and leather. Moreover, the style of shoes was rather simple. According to the literature, the earliest shoes, no matter what material they are made of, are collectively referred to as “屦, jù”. After the Warring States period, the word “履, lǚ” replaced “屦” and became the general name of shoes. By the time of Sui and Tang Dynasties, “鞋, xié” replaced the word “履” and became the general name of all kinds of shoes. This method has continued to this day.

Hanfu shoes in different periods

During the Shang and Zhou dynasties, the system of shoes was very rich, even there were people who were especially in charge of shoes for the emperor. Under the etiquette system, only the nobles could wear colorful leather shoes or shoes made of silk, while the civilians and slaves could only wear shoes made of ordinary cloth, grass. In this period, the style, workmanship, and decoration of shoes have been very refined. The materials, colors, and patterns have also been strictly regulated according to the clothing system. They have cooperated with the clothes and the headwear to form the early clothing system in China.

History of Traditional Chinese Hanfu Shoes

During the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period, with the improvement of technology, silk rope directly woven shoes began to appear, which were very popular with nobles. They even decorated shoes with jade. At the same time, influenced by the nomadic Hu people in the north, boots spread more widely.

History of Traditional Chinese Hanfu Shoes

In the Han Dynasty, Hanfu shoes were named after raw materials, including leather shoes, silk shoes, grass shoes, etc. The shoes of the Han Dynasty were wide in shape, rough and rigid in texture, so they had to be tied when walking for convenience. In order to prevent skin abrasion, thick cloth or stockings are specially made, which are tied with a rope at the end to prevent it from falling when walking.

An important feature of ancient shoes in China is that the head of shoes is raised, that is, the front end is up. Men wear square shoes, women wear round shoes. As the longest popular shoe in ancient China, it has both practicability and decoration.

History of Traditional Chinese Hanfu Shoes

In the Tang Dynasty, there were many styles of shoes, were made of brocade, silk, and also made of Pu grass. The weaving technique of grass sandals in the Tang Dynasty is very exquisite, which is deeply loved by women in Tang Dynasty. It is a necessary tool for workers.

In the early days of the Song Dynasty, shoe style followed the previous system. With the development of shoe culture, shoe shops began to appear in society.

History of Traditional Chinese Hanfu Shoes
embroidered shoes of Southern Song Dynasty

In the Ming Dynasty, there was not much difference in the style of shoes between the common people and the nobility, but in the material quality. Zao boots (皂靴) are the shoes that officials have to wear, which is a kind of practical Ming Dynasty shoes, black high top shoes with thick white soles, the fabrics are black leather, satin, Zhan (毡, a piece of material made from wool or other animal hair), etc.

History of Traditional Chinese Hanfu Shoes

The unique shoes of the Qing Dynasty are Qi shoes, also known as “flower pot bottom”. Its sole is made of wood, wrapped in white cloth, and the upper and vamp are decorated with various embroidery patterns. As for the origin of the flower pot bottom, one view holds that the cheongsam should be prevented from not dragging the ground or exposing the feet. Another view holds that this way can not only increase the height but also make the arm swing larger when women walk to reflect the graceful posture of women.

History of Traditional Chinese Hanfu Shoes

More about traditional Chinese outfits.

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