May 2002

Feet & Footwear In Indian Culture

The Bata Shoe Museum Foundation

  • 327 Bloor Street West
  • Toronto , Ontario

800.252.5231

A Resource for devotees of fashion, shoes and Indian culture...

The foot has long held a place of high esteem in Indian culture. The feet of elders are worshiped by the younger generation, and a lover who caresses his beloved.s foot has proven his ultimate devotion. A rich tradition of foot adornment has developed as a result of this attention to the foot, from toe rings to elaborate henna tattoos to meticulously carved padukas (toe knob sandals.) Published by the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto, abc Feet & Footwear xyz in Indian Culture traces the history of India.s fascination with and respect for the foot, and how that attitude impacted the development of its footwear.

The authors draw upon the literary and artistic tradition of India to trace the evolution of its footwear. Ancient Indian poetry, Sanskrit texts and Hindu paintings and sculptures depict richly carved anklets, bejewelled toe-rings and elaborate tattoo designs for the foot. Padukas are shown in many varieties: painted wood, silver and ivory. Mojaris (ceremonial shoes with upturned toes) are displayed with gold and silver embroidery and embellished with rubies, diamonds and emeralds set in gold. From more modern times, a variety of sandals show the importance of regional influences on style: a sandal from Himachal Pradesh comes with a thick leather sole to protect against the rough terrain and a built in leather sock for warmth.

abc Feet & Footwear xyz in Indian Culture is a wonderful resource for those interested in Indian culture as well as devotees of fashion and shoes. The historical references are enlightening, and the abundance of exquisite photographs is truly remarkable. Fashion students will indeed find inspiration in India.s rich tradition of adornment to this most important body part.

Reviewer: Mollie Jones., FIDM Library Staff Member