The origin of lily feet is not very certain. It is often said that it appeared during the Five Dynasties (907–960). According to legend, a king asked a lady-in-waiting named Ruiniang to bind her feet and dance on a golden lotus flower, so it was called three-cun lily feet. After that, the custom of foot-binding emerged. But this custom ceased after the founding of New China, and shoes for lily feet entered the museums. There is another story about lily feet. The king of the Sui Dynasty (581–618) was immoral. When he traveled along the river, he did not want to use men to tow his boat, so he chose 100 beautiful women. A blacksmith’s daughter, Wu Yueniang, was one of them. She bound her feet and hid a small sword inside. She wore very beautiful small shoes with lotus flowers which attracted the king’s attention. When the king came closer to look, Wu Yueniang drew out the sword and stabbed the king’s arm. Wu Yueniang failed to kill the king; then she jumped into the river and killed herself. From then on, women began binding their feet to memorialize Wu Yueniang. (Source: Chinese Shoe Culture Museum)
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