This pride was reflected in the elegantly embroidered silk slippers and wrappings girls and women wore to cover their feet.
Bound feet became a mark of beauty and was also a prerequisite for finding a husband.
It also became an avenue for poorer women to marry into money in some areas; for example, in late 19th century Guangdong, it was customary to bind the feet of the eldest daughter of a lower-class family who was intended to be brought up as a lady.
I do not know what use this is." The earliest archaeological evidence for foot binding dates to the tombs of Huang Sheng, who died in 1243 at the age of 17, and Madame Zhou, who died in 1274.
Each had her feet bound with 6-foot-long gauze strips.
This practice was called "toast to the golden lotus" and lasted until the late Qing dynasty.
However, no other foreign visitors to Yuan China mentioned the practice, including Ibn Battuta and Marco Polo (who nevertheless noted the dainty walk of Chinese women who took very small steps), perhaps an indication that it was not a widespread or extreme practice at that time.
There are a number of stories about the origin of foot binding before its establishment around the 10th-century.
One of these involves the story of a favorite consort of the Southern Qi emperor Xiao Baojuan, Pan Yunu (died 501 AD), who had delicate feet and danced barefoot on a floor decorated with golden lotus flower design.
Foot binding was practiced in different forms, and the more severe form of binding may have been developed in the 16th century.
It has been estimated that by the 19th century, 40–50% of all Chinese women may have had bound feet, and up to almost 100% among upper class Chinese women.
This story may have given rise to the terms "golden lotus" or "lotus feet" used to describe bound feet; there is, however, no evidence that Consort Pan ever bound her feet.