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Meet the world's last remaining women who are living with bound feet.

 

Traditionally, women had their feet bound as a sign that they would be a good wife.
Traditionally, women had their feet bound as a sign that they would be a good wife.

Photographer Jo Farrell is on a mission to photograph a dying fragment of Chinese culture: foot binding.

For more than eight years now the photographer and cultural anthropologist has spent time in rural Shandong, documenting some of the last remaining survivors of an almost-lost tradition.

Her black and white photographs are simple, stunning, and speak volumes of this dying practice that started as far back as the Song Dynasty.

The practice of foot binding, which was banned in China in 1911 but carried on until women had the bandages forcibly removed, results in feet that are disfigured for life as the toes are broken beneath the soles of the feet.

Jo has photographed and interviewed 50 women with bound feet in remote areas of China, the majority of whom were farm workers from peasant families living in rural areas. And here are some of the stunning results:

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Jo’s goal is an impressive one: to have a complete record of the lives of women with bound feet that goes beyond the foot and is there for generations to come.The venture, which Jo calls “Living History”, has so far been self-funded from the proceeds of her photograph sales which she develops and prints herself.

But, with time running out to record this fascinating history, Jo has started a kickstarter campaign to raise funds so the project can be completed and documented in a book.

Sadly, with the women involved in the project all aged in their 80s and 90s, their health and memories are failing.

This leaves Jo with an extraordinary fight on her hands – to document this tradition before it disappears from both history and memory altogether.

This video documents the breathtaking project in more depth:

Jo Farrell is an award-wining black and white documentary photographer and cultural anthropologist. Her kickstarter project, “Living History” aims to fund a month long expedition to photograph women and complete the documentation in Shandong Province – It can be accessed here. You can also follow her on Facebook here.
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