Chinese Casual Wear of Shoes and Socks (Ⅰ)

Ancient Chinese people were very particular about shoes and socks. Shoes and boots were made of different textures, such as straw-woven, rope-woven, silk-woven, wood and leather etc. in terms of shape, it had round toe, square toe and pointed toe. Regulations on shoes wearing varied in different historical periods, people’s different status and different social institutions. Shoes decoration as part of costume and accessories reflected the social and cultural development.

Shoes worn by the ancient Chinese were known as Lv generally made of silk and cotton. Because silk and cotton was precious in Shang and Zhou Dynasties (1600B.C.-256B.C.), the shoes were mostly made of leather and flax instead.

Silk shoes became popular in Han Dynasty (206B.C.-220A.D.). Even the servants who served the wealthy family wore silk shoes. During Wei, Jin, Northern and Southern Dynasties (220-581), southern people mostly wore silk or stain shoes while the northern people wore them in summer. In winter, northern people changed the felt or cotton shoes. There were various shapes of silk shoes at that time. Shoes making technique became increasingly elaborate. There were embroidery patterns or different designs cut by gold foil stitched on the shoes. Shoes at that time had heavy sole which was different from it used to be.

In Tang Dynasty (618-907), the shape of silk shoes was followed and new structures constantly came out. The popular shoes featured their toes sticking up. At that time, the word Lv was replaced by “shoes” which has been in use today.


Silk Lv (shoes) of Han Dynasty (206B.C.-220A.D.)
This pair of silk Lv was 26cm in length with toe 7cm and heel 5cm. the upper had two layers made of silk and cotton. Sole was woven by twine.


Woven Lv
Based on fixed patters, people wove the colored silk thread and linen into shoes. Someone is dainty about the complex patterns. They will be woven on the upper of the shoes and the professional craftsmen will make into shoes. This kind of shoes starts from Qin, Han, Wei and Jin Dynasties (221B.C.-420A.D.). In Northern and Southern Dynasties (420-581), it becomes popular among the noble.

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