We are in the process of upgrading software and the SDN website will be temporarily unavailable for a few hours on Monday morning EST. Once the software is upgraded, this notice will no longer appear and the site will be back to normal. We apologize for any inconvenience.
  • Image 1 of 6

Living History: Bound Feet Women of China

Jo Farrell | Hong Kong

Yang Jing e (87), Bound Feet [2010]

This ongoing photographic project documents and celebrates the lives of some of the last remaining women in China with bound feet. In their native country, China, it is not often discussed, as it is considered such an old custom that does not reflect modern China. For the past nine years I have been travelling to China to photograph these women in an effort to capture their lives through photographic details.

Each elderly woman is photographed and interviewed about their foot binding and their lives. Originally banned in 1912, the practice continued in rural areas until 1949 whereupon the bindings were forcibly removed. To-date I have photographed 50 women with bound feet. The majority are between the 80 and 100 years old and are from Shandong and Yunnan Provinces. These women come from peasant backgrounds and have lived incredible lives working in the fields despite their bound feet. The work looks beyond their feet and captures a piece of history for generations to come.

The work is created with b&w flm and printed as silver gelatin prints.


Jo Farrell is an award-winning black and white photographer and cultural anthropologist. Born in London, England she has been based in Hong Kong for the past eight years. Her photography work focuses on traditions and cultures that are dying out, including the project “Living History: Bound Feet Women of China.” She has been the recipient of numerous awards for her work and has been published internationally.

Having been in-and-out of China in the past 25 years, my first thought was to document women with bound feet. I was told that there were no longer any survivors left after all this time. In 2005 I located my first woman with bound feet and started photographing and interviewing women in villages. Since then the project has griwn over the past nine years to inlcue 50 women, who are some if the most generous, fearless women I have ever met.

Jo Farrell





Content loading...

Make Comment/View Comments