When I first began to read Severo Sarduy’s novel Cobra and Maitreya, I was astonished by Cobra’s need to make her feet smaller. As the narrator states,
She’d set them in molds at daybreak, apply salt compresses, chastise them sith successive baths of hot and cold water. She forced them with gags; she submitted them to crude mechanics. She manufactured wire armors to put them in, shortening and twisting the threads again and again with pliers; after smearing them with gum Arabic she bound them with strips of cloth: they were mummies, children of Florentine medallions.
As an avid watcher of the Discovery Channel, I remembered watching an episode of how the Chinese appreciated and even found foot binding a trait of perfection.
This video, I found, was great at portraying the rituals and all the concoctions Cobra felt he needed to perform just so his feet would change in size.
*Video can be graphic. Viewer watch at own discretion.