Community & Education HKFP Lens

HKFP Lens: Bound – Jo Farrell’s humanising photos of China’s last women with bound feet

The Chinese practice of foot-binding – contorting the feet of young girls to retain their petiteness – died out in the 20th century.
Bound feet foot binding

Photo: Jo Farrell.

A few elderly women in rural villages who underwent the painful custom survive today.
Bound feet foot binding

Photo: Jo Farrell.

In the mid-2000s, photographer Jo Farrell travelled across China – mostly rural Yunnan and Shandong – finding dozens of women with bound feet. Some were often 100 years old.
Bound feet foot binding

Photo: Jo Farrell.

“It was the only way forward for women,” says Farrell. “They did it because they thought it would give them a better future, a better life.”
Bound feet foot binding

Photo: Jo Farrell.

But today, some of them have been ignored and left to themselves in their old age.
Bound feet foot binding

Photo: Jo Farrell.

“The humanising photographs are all taken using a Hasselblad camera showing not only their feet but also beautiful portraits of the women and their home surroundings,” said exhibition partner Blue Lotus Gallery.
Bound feet foot binding

Photo: Jo Farrell.

Bound feet foot binding

Photo: Jo Farrell.

Bound feet foot binding

Photo: Jo Farrell.

Bound feet foot binding

Photo: Jo Farrell.

Bound feet foot binding

Photo: Jo Farrell.

Farrell’s exhibition – Bound – will be shown at Sheung Wan’s Hong Kong Museum of Medical Science between March 18 to 31.

HKFP Lens: Bound - Jo Farrell's humanising photos of China's last women with bound feet