custom was first adopted 1,000 years ago and was seen as a symbol of beauty and wealth

The horrific Chinese custom was first adopted 1,000 years ago among courtesans, after a Tang Dynasty emperor fell in love with a mistress who wrapped her tiny feet in silk when she danced.

Zhou Guizhen, 86, shows one of her bound feet where the bones in the four small toes were broken and forced underneath the foot over a period of time, at her home in Liuyi village in China’s southern Yunnan Province

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Zhou Guizhen, 86, shows one of her bound feet where the bones in the four small toes were broken and forced underneath the foot over a period of time, at her home in Liuyi village in China’s southern Yunnan Province

 

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Zhou reveals how her toes have been manipulated with tight bandages so they now sit painfully at the sole of her foot

Pictured, three young girls with bound feet. In imperial China, young girls would have their feet bound, crushing them into a mutilated shape they called the ‘lotus foot’

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Pictured, three young girls with bound feet. In imperial China, young girls would have their feet bound, crushing them into a mutilated shape they called the ‘lotus foot’

The bizarre custom soon became entrenched in upper-class court performers before spreading to all socio-economic divisions.

It quickly became the ultimate measure of a woman’s beauty at the time.

Foot binding also became popular as a means of displaying wealth.

A member of the Bound Feet Women Dancing Team puts on her ‘Three Cuns Golden Lotus’ shoe as she prepares for dancing practice at Liuyi Village. ‘Three Cuns Golden Lotus’ is a term used to describe ancient Chinese women’s bound feet, in which three ‘cuns’ are about 3.39 inches

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A member of the Bound Feet Women Dancing Team puts on her ‘Three Cuns Golden Lotus’ shoe as she prepares for dancing practice at Liuyi Village. ‘Three Cuns Golden Lotus’ is a term used to describe ancient Chinese women’s bound feet, in which three ‘cuns’ are about 3.39 inches

Sitting in her home, a traditional courtyard house, Wang Guifeng, 79, shows her uncovered bound foot. She had her feet bound when only a small child and was renowned for having the most beautiful lotus feet in the village

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Sitting in her home, a traditional courtyard house, Wang Guifeng, 79, shows her uncovered bound foot. She had her feet bound when only a small child and was renowned for having the most beautiful lotus feet in the village

Zhou tightly wraps bandages around her minuscule feet that she will then squeeze into her pointed shoes

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Zhou tightly wraps bandages around her minuscule feet that she will then squeeze into her pointed shoes

Zhou lifts up her trouser leg to show how deformed her feet have become over time. According to popular Chinese legend the custom was at first adopted among courtesans 1,000 years ago

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Zhou lifts up her trouser leg to show how deformed her feet have become over time. According to popular Chinese legend the custom was at first adopted among courtesans 1,000 years ago

Young girls practice the Beijing Opera at a theatre school in Beijing in 1934. Their feet have been bound

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Young girls practice the Beijing Opera at a theatre school in Beijing in 1934. Their feet have been bound

Women from rich families, who did not need their feet to work, could afford to have them bound.

To mould the so-called ‘lotus foot’, girls aged between four and nine had their toenails cut extremely short and then their feet wrapped in tight bandages.

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