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p. 101) that the success of the Chinese in dwarfing trees may
have suggested a similar attempt in regard to women's feet, and
adds that in any case both dwarfed trees and bound feet bear
witness in the Mongolian to the same love for small and elegant,
not to say deformed, things. For a Chinaman the deformed foot is
a "golden water-lily."
Many facts (together with illustrations) bearing on Chinese
deformation of the foot will be found in Ploss, _Das Weib_, vol.
i, Section IV.
The significance of the sexual emotion aroused by the female foot in China
and the origin of its compression begin to become clear when we realize
that this foot-fetichism is merely an extreme development of a tendency
which is fairly well marked among nearly all the peoples of yellow race.
Jacoby, who has brought together a number of interesting facts bearing on
the sexual significance of the foot, states that a similar tendency is to
be found among the Mongol and Turk peoples of Siberia, and in the east and
central parts of European Russia, among the Permiaks, the Wotiaks, etc.
Here the woman, at all events when young, has always her feet, as well as
head, covered, however little clothing she may otherwise wear.
"On hot nights or on baking days," Jacoby states, "you may see
these women with uncovered breasts, or even entirely naked
without embarrassment, but you will never see them with bare
feet, and no male relations, except the husband, will ever see
the feet and lower part of the legs of the women in the house.
These women have their modesty in their feet, and also their
coquetry; to unbind the feet of a woman is for a man a voluptuous
act, and the touch of the bands produces the same effect as a
corset still warm from a woman's body on a European man. A
woman's beauty, that which attracts and excites a man, lies in
her foot; in Mordvin love poems celebrating the beauty of women
there is much about her attire, especially her embroidered
chemise, but as regards the charms of her person the poet is
content to state that 'her feet are beautiful;' with that
everything is said. The young peasant woman of the central
provinces as part of her holiday raiment puts on great woolen
stockings which come up to the groin and are then folded over to
below the knee. To uncover the feet of a person of the opposite
sex is a sexual act, and has thus become the symbol of sexual
possession, so that the stocking or foot-gear became the emblem
of marriage, as later the ring. (It was so among the Jews, as we
see in the book of _Ruth_, Chapter III, v. 4, and Chapter IV, vv.
7 and 8). St. Vladimir the Great asked in marriage the daughter
of Prince Rogvold; as Vladimir's mother had been a serf, the
princess proudly replied that she 'would not uncover the feet of
a slave.' At the present time in the east of Russia when a young
girl tries to find out by divination whom she will have as a
husband the traditional formula is 'Come and take my stockings
off.' Among the populations of the north and east, it is
sometimes the bride who must do this for her husband on the
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