Walking as Art


Shoes hold the key to human identity.                 Sonja Bata, founder of the Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto (Trueheart 1995:C10)

Terry Gilliam (Monty Python)

The Foot

The World's Oldest Shoes

Humans were wearing shoes at least 40,000 years ago, according to scientists who have examined the curled-up toes of an ancient skeleton.

Erik Trinkaus and Hong Shang of Washington University in Missouri, measured the shape and density of the toe bones from a 40,000-year-old skeleton found in Tianyuan cave near Beijing.

They then compared them with those from 20th century urban Americans' feet, late-prehistoric Native Americans and late-prehistoric Inuits.

The pair could make assumptions about footwear because shoes change the shape of the foot.

A rigid sole meant toes curled far less than when barefoot and less force was passed through the bones.

That created obvious differences in the three populations, according to an article in the New Scientist.

"Modern shoe-wearing Americans have wimpy little toes. Barefoot native Americans have strong, large toes. Shoe-wearing Inuits lie somewhere in between," Mr Trinkaus said.

The scientists said the Tianyuan toe bones were most similar to the Inuits', indicating their owner regularly wore shoes.

Trinkaus, E. (2005) Anatomical evidence for the antiquity of human footwear use. Journal of Archaeological Science 32, 1515-1526

Sagebrush bark sandal from Catlow Cave (9300 bp)In 1938 archaeologist Luther Cressman (from the University of Oregon) excavated at Fort Rock Cave, located in a small volcanic
butte approximately half a mile west of the Fort Rock volcanic crater in central Oregon. The Fort Rock Basin is the most northwesterly sub-basin of the Great Basin, Western North America's vast intermontane desert.

Cressman found dozens of sandals below a layer of volcanic ash, subsequently determined to come from the eruption of the Mt.
Mazama volcano 7500 years ago. Named for the site where they were first found, Fort Rock-style sandals have since been
reported from ancient deposits in several Northern Great Basin caves.

Sagebrush sandals from Flat Rock (10,500-9,300 bp)Fort Rock sandals are stylistically distinct. They are twined (pairs of weft fibers twisted around warps), and have a flat, close-twined sole, usually with five rope warps. Twining proceeded from the heel to the toe, where the warps were subdivided into finer warps and turned back toward the heel. These fine warps were then open-twined (with spaces between the weft rows) to make a toe flap. Cressman surmised that a tie rope attached to one edge of the sole wrapped around the ankle and fastened to the opposite edge.

Most dated Fort Rock-style sandals are from Fort Rock Cave, but directly dated sandals of this type are also known from Cougar Mountain and Catlow Caves. Directly dated Fort Rock style sandals range in age from at least 10,500 BP to 9200 BP (based on dendrocalibrated radiocarbon ages). For more information, refer to Connolly and Cannon 1999.

Directly dated Fort Rock-style sandals, northern Great Basin.
14C Age
Lab No.
Age Range (cal BP, 1 sigma)
Dated Material
10,920-9650 BP
sagebrush bark
Fort Rock Cave
Arnold and Libby 1951
10,440-9380 BP
sagebrush bark
Fort Rock Cave
Cressman 1951; Bedwell and Cressman 1971
9380-9240 BP
sagebrush bark
Catlow Cave
Connolly and Cannon 1999
9840-9240 BP
Cougar Mtn. Cave
Ferguson and Libby 1962; Connolly 1994
9530-9380 BP
sagebrush bark
Fort Rock Cave
Bedwell and Cressman 1971
10,360-10,020 BP
sagebrush bark
Fort Rock Cave?
Connolly and Cannon 1999
9870-9520 BP
sagebrush bark
Fort Rock Cave?
Connolly and Cannon 1999
The commonly cited 9053±350 age for the "Fort Rock sandal" is actually an average of these two dates, run on "several pairs of woven rope sandals" (Arnold and Libby 1951:117). The weighted average of these two ages produces an age range of 10,390-9650 cal BP.

Arnold, J. R. and W. F. Libby 1951 Radiocarbon Dates. Science 113(2927):111-120.

Bedwell, Stephen F. and Luther S. Cressman 1971 Fort Rock Report: Prehistory and Environment of the Pluvial Fort Rock Lake Area of South-Central Oregon. In Great Basin Anthropological Conference 1970: Selected Papers, edited by C. Melvin Aikens, pp. 1-25. University of Oregon Anthropological Papers 1. Eugene

Connolly, Thomas J. and William J. Cannon 1999 Comments on "America's Oldest Basketry." Radiocarbon 41(3):309-313.

Cressman, Luther S. 1951 Western Prehistory in the Light of Carbon 14 Dating. Southwestern Journal of Anthropology 7(3):289-313.

Cressman, Luther S. 1942 Archaeological Researches in the Northern Great Basin. Carnegie Institution of Washingon Publication 538. Washington, D. C.

Ferguson, G. J. and W. F. Libby 1962 UCLA Radiocarbon Dates. Radiocarbon 4:109-114.

Ötzi, Iceman of the Alps (3350-3300 BC)

the iceman's shoesOetzi, APOn September 19th, 1991, Helmut and Erika Simon, a couple from Nuremberg mountaineering in the Ötztal Alps at a height of 3200 m discovered a corpse, the upper part of which protruded from the glacier. The well-preserved body of a 30-to-45-year old man affectionately dubbed "Oetzi" for his resting-place in the Oetz Valley, near the border with Austria in the Italian Alps, was in a state of near perfect preservation. Oetzi was eventually dated to 3350-3300 BC (late Neolithic). The man of the ice wore shoes on his feet. They  consisted of an oval leather sole with turned-up edges held in place with a leather thong. The soles are made of cowhide attached to straps of a net like construction of knotted grass cords. A net woven out of grass was attached to this on the inside to hold in place the hay that was stuffed inside (like socks) as protection against the cold. The shoe was closed with deer leather uppers attached to the sole by a plain-stitched leather thong. The linden bark netting covered the tab on the leggin thus holding the two together. Attached to the sole are upper pieces of leather, presumably of fur, which formed the boot shape, tied at the ankle with grass cords.Whereas the sole of the shoe is made of brown bear skin, the uppers are made of deerskin. The  uppers were closed using "shoe-laces". He is now in the South Tyrol Museum in Bolzano in a special cold storage chamber (kept at constant 0 to -6 C) .

Researchers at Tomas Bata University in the Czech Republic are undertaking a study of the Iceman's footwear. They have constructed three pairs of animal skin shoes that replicate those worn by Ötzi. Three members of the research team will visit an area near Ötzi's discovery site, put on the replicas, and take a two-hour hike. The shoes will be removed and studied. Afterwards, researchers intend to donate them to an unnamed museum. The task of making replicas of his shoes was not easy. Besides analyzing the various materials used to construct the original shoes, researchers had to determine how the Iceman (or his shoemaker) cut and tanned the skins. They also wondered whether the dried grass still grew in the region. Analysis revealed that fats from animal brains and livers were used to make the tanning solution, that a flint rock was used to cut the skins, and that the same grass still grows. These details were used in constructing the replicas.

History of Footwear (by Cameron Kippen) ... and podophilia (not for the prudish!)

Sandal, 8000 BCSoft boots 500 AD

Poulaine 1200Duck's Bill 1500

Slippers 1700High-heel 1800


Australian Aboriginal sandals made from Emu feathers

Phillip Adams: Plunging in feet first, October 05, 2002

As usual, the human race has one foot in the grave. And as our political, military and environmental crises escalate, the second foot may follow. Or, to borrow another podiatral turn of phrase, the other shoe will fall.

             As we teeter on the edge of the abyss, it seems a good time to amuse ourselves by taking a look
             at, yes, feet. As a distraction from our army-booted march to disaster, let's look at some of the
             bizarre facts surrounding footwear.

             What follows is an Emma Tom-ish exercise in shoe fetishism. It's a consequence of my tripping
             over a scholarly version of Imelda Marcos. Cameron Kippen, who speaks in the richest of Scottish
             brogues, is a lecturer in podiatry at the Curtin Institute of Technology in Perth, where he teaches
             about brogues of a different sort. Along with boots, slippers, sandals, galoshes, wellies, high-heels
             and clogs.

             These days we seem inured to shock. Human proclivities and perversions no longer raise eyebrows
             or frisson. But when Cameron opened Pandora's shoe box and the filthy truth about feet escaped, I
             felt a mixture of fascination and repulsion.

             For example, in the high Middle Ages, men began to wear long-toed shoes called pigaches or
             poulaines. Cameron explained that the fashion lasted more than 300 years, during which the
             extensions became longer and longer until walking was all but impossible. Blatantly phallic, the
             style required the toes of the shoe to be connected to the knee with a chain so as to prevent

             And young bucks started to stuff wool and moss into the extensions to keep them erect. To
             emphasise the erotic implications of these medieval winklepickers, it was customary to paint them
             flesh pink. And allow them to flap, Cameron notes, with lifelike mobility.

             Were talking about the ends of the feet being extended by up to 60cm. Small bells were often
             attached to the end of the poulaine to indicate that the wearer was a willing partner in sexual frolic.
             Playing footsie under the table became increasingly rampant. While boring conversations were
             being held over the meal, the poulaines were being employed under the petticoats and between the
             thighs of female guests. Consequently even a simple three-course dinner could become

             Polite society was outraged by the poulaines and youths were chastised for standing on street
             corners waggling their toes suggestively as women walked by. Little wonder that the Catholic
             Church saw poulaines as a threat to virtue, chastity and decency. Apart from anything else, they
             physically prevented men from kneeling in prayer.

             Branding the shoes as Satan's curse - or Satan's claw - the Vatican passed laws against them.
             Nonetheless they maintained their popularity, even when the clergy insisted that the Black Death
             was God's revenge for, yes, a style of shoe. (Incidentally, few women wore them because, at the
             time, members of their gender were being persecuted as witches if they wore unusual clobber. And
             a pair of poulaines was enough to have you burned at the stake.)

             According to Cameron, what shooed these shoes was the death of Duke Leopold II of Austria, who
             died when his poulaines impeded him from escaping assassins. Another factor was French king
             Charles VIII's polydactylism - he had six toes on each foot. To accommodate them comfortably
             required broad, square-toed shoes that helped change the fashion.

             As erotic as the poulaine, the duck's bill shoe was broad enough to accommodate even Charles
             VIII's feet. They were as much as 30cm wide, forcing wearers to adopt a waddling gait. The uppers
             were made from silks, brocades and velvet and the shoes were heavily padded, puffed and

             The upper of the shoe had fine cuts in the leather, says Cameron, to show the coloured hose or
             sumptuous lining beneath. Often the shoes were lined with soft fur to resemble pubic hair and as the
             foot moved, skin could be observed through the opening and closing slits, vagina-like.

             And to think that, as a bodgie in the 1950s, I thought I was being outrageous when I had a duck's
             bum haircut and a pair of blue suede shoes.

             For centuries, shoes tended to be largely rationed to the high and the mighty, to pharaohs, kings
             and courtiers. Even when they became more common in the Christian era, they remained expensive
             and exclusive. Costs were so prohibitive, people bequeathed their footwear to family and loved ones,
             says Cameron. Hence the saying, following in your father's footsteps.

             Ancient Greek women of ill repute often wore elevated sandals to attract men's attention. According
             to Cameron, this led to a sexy wiggle that created an audible clacking when walking. Which, in due
             course, must have produced an almost Pavlovian response in members of my weak and suggestible

             But the modern high heel evolving into the stiletto seems to derive from Catherine de' Medici in
             16th-century Florence. Diminutive in stature, she wore high heels to her wedding - the style
             becoming an instant success.

             Down the track, Louis XIV of France became fanatical about them and forbade any other than the
             privileged classes from wearing high heels, on penalty of death. But then, the Sun King was also
             short and needed all the help he could get.

             Cameron explains that the connection between sexuality and the foot originates in our species' bold
             decision to walk upright. Apparently our bipedal stance has influenced the anatomical development
             of what Cameron calls the wobbly bits - buttocks, bosoms, tummies and hips. And where
             quadrupeds largely hide their sexual bits and pieces, we uprights are, one and all, flashers.

             Moreover, we're the only species able to copulate standing up and facing each other. Which recalls
             a joke ``Diamond Jim'' McLelland once told me. Why do Methodists disapprove of having f---s in
             darkened doorways? Because it might lead to dancing.

             Wilder Penfield, a 20th-century neurosurgeon, identified the parts of the brain responsible for
             orgasmic activity - and found they lay in close juxtaposition to the section responsible for feet.
             Thereby confirming Freud's belief, says Cameron, of a strong link between feet and sexuality.

             But enough of this. I feel a strong compulsion to rush off and buff my shoes. Those of you wanting to
             put your toes into other people's business can read Cameron's e-book on the history of footwear at:
             www.podiatry.curtin.edu.au/history.html. For my own part, after burnishing my shoes to
             maximum brightness, I shall take a cold shower.

Andy Warhol (who suffered from St. Vitus Dance)

Andy WarholAndy Warhol was born Andrew Warhola in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as the son of immigrants from Ruthenia, where the current boundaries of Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and the Ukraine meet. His father, Andrej, who travelled much on business trips, died when Warhol was 13. When he was eight (1936), according to his mother Julia, he caught rheumatic fever which developed into chorea (or St Vitus Dance). In the quixotic Philosophy, he calls it a nervous breakdown. One should remember, when trying to take his books at face value, that he didn't entirely write them, and that he was a liar.) Biographer Bockris reports that Andy came down with chorea in the autumn of 1938, and that illness kept him away from school, an invalid at his mother's side; he occupied a bed off the kitchen for a month. Symptoms of chorea included skin blotches and uncontrolled shaking. Both echoed in Warhol's future, and though he left no direct verbal commentary about what it felt like to shake or to endure dermatological disfigurement, in his mature artworks he refracted these experiences, letting stigma reverberate in painting, film, and performance. Tese later artistic recastings of St. Vitus' Dance represent childhood trauma's consummation, cancellation, and vindication. He found it difficult to control his hand to write or draw and was forced to stay in bed for a month. During this time, his mother provided him with a steady supply of coloring and comic books, magazines, and paper dolls, which enabled him to continue his art-making despite his condition. While incapacitated he played with a Charlie McCarthy doll and made paper cutouts, cultivating early the propensity for fantasy which characterized his personality, Besides altering his birth date and name, Warhol underwent plastic surgery in the 50's to trim his bulbous, red nose but was angered when the operation failed to lend him the glamour he so desperately desired. Also at this time he began dreaming of being a Hollywood star and even wrote to some of his favorite celebrities. He was an albino, with blotchy skin, and was taunted as Spot by his schoolmates. He had linguistic problems stemming from his home environment. At college his fellow students thought he had "a childlike duality about him". He was still living with his mother until the early '70s.
Shoes, shoes, shoes (book cover)

                           His original aspiration was to be a tap dancer, like his first idol,
                           Shirley Temple. Coming down with chorea, he became a sort of
                           dancer. The uncontrolled shaking, at first undiagnosed, leading
                           others to think him clumsy and febrile, took the Shirley fantasy
                           somewhere dark: tap is conscious, while St. Vitus' Dance is
                           hapless. The debate that will later rage over whether Warhol
                           made his own art, or whether he just had assistants do it, begins
                           with the chorea question: who controls Andy's physical
                           movements? His entire career, he will want to pretend not to be
                           their author. From the age of eight he understood possession: and
                           therefore he would revise the myth of artistic inspiration, whether
                           demonic or aetherial, and reconceive his body as a machine
                           transmitting movements that bypass consciousness and willpower,
                           that automatically repeat, and that embarrass. When he was a
                           college student at Carnegie Tech, studying art and design, he
                           joined the Modern Dance Club, consisting entirely of young
                           women, himself excepted. Arriving in New York, he would live
                           with dancers. His films feature dancers, such as the
                           aforementioned 1965 portrait of Paul Swan—more Gloria
                           Swanson than Rudolf Nureyev. Another dancer who would
                           illustrate, for Warhol, the confusion between deliberate gesture
                           and unwilled spasm was Freddy Herko, who appeared in several
                           early films, and who literally danced himself to death (suggesting a
                           vestige of Totentanz in St. Vitus' Dance): Freddy put Mozart's
                           Coronation Mass on the hi-fi and leaped out the window.

                           Andy's St. Vitus' Dance (and the sickbed time spent with his
                           mother) may not have sent him melodramatically into death's
                           arms, but it altered his sense of touch—heightening it, turning it
                           into a difficulty not lightly to be engaged. Thereafter he preferred
                           not to be touched; hyperaesthetic, Andy as an adult would visibly
                           recoil when a person attempted a handshake, a hug.

                           After St. Vitus' Dance, with its erratic movements, Andy next
                           would confront stillness. His father died when Andy was thirteen.
                           According to Julia, her husband drank poisoned water: "Andy
                           was young boy when my husband die. In 1942. My husband
                          three years sick. He go to West Virginia to work, he go to mine
                           and drink water. The water was poison. He was sick for three
                           years. He got stomach poisoning. Doctors, doctors, no help."
                           Andy would remain fascinated by motionlessness—resting
                           bodies, arrested by photography; his movies (which he and
                           assistant Gerard Malanga called "stillies") preferred static objects
                           and near-motionless individuals. The film moved, but the subjects
                           didn't. Nor do boxes or paintings move. The only thing moving, in
                           much of Warhol's art, is time, lapping over icons.

                           Andy was terrified of his father's dead body: downstairs, laid out
                           for three days, as was customary (the family was Byzantine
                           Catholic). Andy refused to pay his respects. He hid under his
                           bed. Death, he now understood, was permanent stillness; until
                           then, it might not have occurred to him that motion, a St. Vitus'
                           affliction he'd wanted to stop, would eventually halt forever.
                           Andrej's dead body, with Julia sitting beside it, proved motion to
                           be not such a bad thing. 

HC Westermann

The Last Ray of Hope, 1968-a pair of Westermann's Marine-issue boots, polished and waxed again and again to a perfect, obsidian-like blackness, in homage to Maxim Gorky's remark that a strong pair of boots "will be of greater service for the ultimate triumph of socialism than black eyes".

Jane Rohrschneider

andy.jpg (9812 bytes) Andy Warhol Pump
mosaicyard.jpg (30160 bytes)gardenshoes.jpg (16998 bytes)mosaic2.jpeg.jpg (15600 bytes)mosaics 

Colin McDowell

(book cover)

Bruce Gray

"High Heel Shoes #1 & #2" (32x31x14) & (32x28x13), welded aluminum
"High Heel Shoe #4" (39x27x16), steel & enamel
Shoe #4 at home in Indian Wells, California
"wearable" high heel shoes in stainless steel

Matthew & Mary Lovein


3 Foot Shoe private collection, 36x29x12"
Spikey 26x17x10.5" metal work
Stepping  into the Millennium, 48" vase  Boot safe

Lacy, metal wall sculpture  Shoe Stand 
                                                                            Ladies of Egypt , Ceramic and metal, 16x20x10" 


American Shoes,  giclee on canvas
"Ice Cream Heels", Limited edition print Proposal, giclee on canvas
Look Down in Color, monotype
Reflection , giclee

Jeff Yojeff Mercer

Red glass shoe

Blue glass shoe

Annie Ball

Silk covered tea box

Patty Van Asperen

  Blue Descending Heels, fused glass bowl
Glass slipper
Da Vine, glass
Petroglyph high heel, rock

Darrell Hill

  Sunset Boot, 3D with oil paint 
Melba Boyd
Blue Man Shoe

Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929)

Silver Shoes (1976-77)

Yayoi Kusama was born 22 March 1929, in Japan. Kusama's paintings, collages, sculptures, and environmental works all share an obsession with repetition, pattern, and accumulation. Hoptman writes that "Kusama's interest in pattern began with hallucinations she experienced as a young girl--visions of nets, dots, and flowers that covered everything she saw. Gripped by the idea of 'obliterating the world,' she began covering larger and larger areas of canvas with patterns." Her organically abstract paintings of one or two colors (the Infinity Netsseries), which she began upon arriving in New York, garnered comparisons to the work of Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Barnett Newman. Starting in 1967 she became involved in performance-based work, and by the late '60s the happenings in which she participated were receiving much more attention in the popular press than in the art magazines that had previously reviewed her work. In the early '70s Kusama traveled between Japan and the United States several times, and she eventually remained in Japan. During the mid '70s Kusama was hospitalized for psychological problems, and in 1977 she took up long-term residence at the Seiwa Hospital in Tokyo, where she set up a studio and has continued her work as an artist.

Diane McLean

Shoe (Roman sandal), University of Stirling, Scotland

Lobbs of London

Lobb's of London: Jubilee Shoe, 2002
Boots made for an Indian Princess in Arkansas and presented to Mr. Eric Lobb in 1948.

Roman Shoes

Adult woman's shoes found at archaelogical excavation at Southfleet (Springhead), Kent in 1801. Originally purple with a pale lining visible through the openwork and gilded metal thread embellishing the pattern (British Museum, 2nd-3rd Century AD)

Roman child's leather hobnailed sandal (caliga) with decorative openwork upper (Bank of England/British Museum)

Light leather Roman shoe known as a carbatina (British Museum)

Chinese Paper Shoes

High-heeled three-wheeler

Venus Veldhoen (b. 1968)

photophoto Holy Feet

Veldhoen took the photographs of the feet while travelling in India in 1996. Feet are sacred in India and they also carry great importance for her: Feet take you everywhere in life, they are the number one means of transport. As the naked foot is in direct contact with the earth, I believe it passes on personal strength and aura to the trodden ground.



Pierre Silber

Extreme high heel ballet fetish shoes

Imelda Marcos

Imelda Marcos with her shoesImelda MarcosImelda Marcos

The world's best-known shoe collector, former Philippine First Lady Imelda Marcos, opened a museum in 2001, in which most of the exhibits are her own footwear.

The Footwear Museum in Barangay San Roque, Marikina City, Manila (a district known as the shoe capital of the Philippines) contains hundreds of pairs of shoes, many of them found in the presidential palace when Imelda and her husband, President Ferdinand Marcos, fled to Hawaii in 1986.

Imelda and shoe phone"This museum is making a subject of notoriety into an object of beauty," Mrs Marcos told reporters.

The museum management hopes it will help attract tourism to Marikina, "They went into my closets looking for skeletons, but thank God, all they found were shoes, beautiful shoes," a smiling Mrs Marcos said, wearing a pair of locally made silver shoes for the day.

"More than anything, this museum will symbolise the spirit and culture of the Filipino people.

"Filipinos don't wallow in what is miserable and ugly. They recycle the bad into things of beauty," she said.

The exhibits include shoes made by such world-famous names as Ferragamo, Givenchy, Chanel and Christian Dior, all size eight-and-a-half. The museum also houses traditional shoes from different countries, as well as footwear of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, former Presidents Ferdinand Marcos and Fidel Ramos, some senators and athletes.

During her time as first lady, Mrs Marcos was famed for travelling the world to buy new shoes at a time when millions of Filipinos were living in extreme poverty.  She reportedly owned over 3000 pairs of shoes when she was forced to flee the presidential estate. President Marcos' successor, Corazon Aquino, ordered many of Mrs Marcos' shoes to be put on display as a demonstration of her extravagance.

While Ferdinand Marcos died in exile, neverseeing his country again after his fall from grace in a popular uprising, his widow has reintegrated herself into Philippines life. She has twice run for president and analysts say she may run for mayor of Manila next May.

Some 200,000 people work in the Marikina district making shoes, with roads carrying names such as Sandal Street and Slipper Street.

I did not have three thousand pair of shoes. I had one thousand and sixty.

Everybody kept their shoes there. The maids...everybody.

Our opponent (Cory Aquino) does not put on any make up. She does not have her fingernails manicured. You know gays. They are for beauty. Filipinos who like beauty, love, and God are for Marcos.

I get my fingers in all our pies. Before you know it, your little fingers including all your toes are in all the pies.
Shoes in Museums

Other shoe museums

In 1998 the Museum of London's exhibit, Sole City: London Shoes From the 1st to the 21st Century, featured contemporary
British shoe designers and explored the designers' penchant for offshore production. Sogetsu Ikebana School's 1999 Sogetsu Hall exhibition, The Art of The Shoe, paid tribute to the life and works of Salvatore Ferragamo. The shoes, exhibited amidst green bamboo structures, were designed from 1927 to 1960, the year of his death.

Museums like France's International Shoe Museum (Le Musée International de la Chaussure) and Offenbach's German Shoe Museum (Deutsches Ledermuseum / Schuhmuseum) have helped preserve centuries of shoe design history. Besides legacy shoes, the German Shoe Museum features contemporary footwear debuted at the International Shoe Fair, a trade event in Düsseldorf.

In addition to European and non-European shoe exhibits, 20th century artists like Günther Uecker, Allen Jones, Caroline Bahr, Gisela Cardaun and Gaza Bowen, who see the shoe as an art form, are also featured. The International Shoe Museum showcases 8,000 rare and original items from around the world, as well as exhibits by contemporary designers.

Toronto's Bata Shoe Museum's exhibits, housed in a angular shoe box design by architect Raymond Moriyama, include shoes of the ordinary and the renowned. Virtually step inside Picasso's zebra-striped boots or explore a collection of ethnological, Western, Indian, circumpolar and other historical artifacts, from nearly every culture in the world.

San Francisco's M.H.de Young Memorial Museum featured footwear in their 1996 exhibit: If The Shoe Fits. In 1998, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts exhibit, A Grand Design: The Art of the Victoria and Albert Museum, showcased 2,000 years of art from 26 countries, including shoes and boots by Mary Quant, Vivienne Westwood, Vegetarian and others.

Over 150 athletic shoes were the star attraction in the 2000 San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) exhibition, Design Afoot: Athletic Shoes 1995 - 2000. This exhibit featured designs by Suki Saki, Lulu Longtime and other artists who have designed shoe for Adidas, Converse, Nike, Oakley, Polo and Prada while exploring the blurred boundary between function and fashion.

What will future footwear look like?

Will they follow the predictions of Madison Avenue's Committee for Colour and Trends, who felt that after Helmut Lang's minimalist shoe designs, like those of  Helmut Lang, designers would turn to modernism... and then what?  Will future shoes be takeoffs on the Space Racer and Relax-O-Shoe?  Will shoes be designed by artist/inventors, custom-designed by man and computer or will they be return to being handmade?
Expressive Soles: Why Iraqis used shoes to shoo Saddam
                      I was in a bar (as one frequently is) at the end of a day's labors. There were televisions lit up, one on
                      the left, another on the right, with pictures from statue-strewn Baghdad streets. And just then the
                      barmaid across from me, clearly thirsting as much for information on another culture as I was for a
                      Scotch, asked aloud, and quizzically: "What's with the shoes?!"

                      How can one not have noticed, and wondered about, the shoes?

                      In recent days we've seen Baghdadis, Basrans, Kirkukis, Karbalites, Dearbornis--Iraqis of all
                      sorts--assaulting every fallen statue of Saddam Hussein, every unseated portrait of the tyrant, with
                      their footwear. We've seen leather shoes, plastic sandals, rubber flip-flops, even (or was this an
                      illusion?) some Nikes, long-laced and incongruous. Everything but stiletto heels, which aren't, if I may
                      be permitted a rare generalization, big in the Arab world, at least not in public.

                      These images--these flailings of sole against statuary--have been among the most charming of any to
                      emerge from Freed Iraq, and arguably the most intriguing to Western viewers. One can comprehend
                      the toppling of the totemic figures in town squares, and one has, in fact, seen this sort of thing
                      before: in Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Romania and other places at the end of the Cold War. But one
                      never saw men in Vilnius, Cracow, Minsk or Timisoara flay their bronze or plaster Lenins and
                      Ceaucescus with their shoes. There may have been some kicking, but no one in the East Bloc ever
                      discalced himself to hand-deliver a thrashing to a crippled icon.

                      So what is it with the shoes in Iraq?

                      As anyone who has been to the Middle East (or even to countries like India) knows, the foot and shoe
                      are imbued with considerable significance.

                      The foot occupies the lowest rung in the bodily hierarchy and the shoe, in addition to being something
                      in which the foot is placed, is in constant contact with dirt, soil and worse. The sole of the shoe is the
                      most unclean part of an unclean object. In northern India, where I grew up, the exhortation "Jooté
                      maro!" ("Hit him with shoes!") was invoked when one sought to administer the most demeaning
                      punishment. (Another footwear tidbit: The effigies of unpopular politicians in India are regularly
                      garlanded with shoes and paraded down the streets.)

                      In the Muslim world, according to Hume Horan, a former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, "to have the
                      sole of the shoe directed toward one is pretty much the equivalent of someone in our culture giving
                      you the finger." Matthew Gordon, a historian of Islam, says that since one takes one's shoes off before
                      entering a mosque--as a way of maintaining the purity of the place of worship--"the use of a shoe as
                      something to hit you with is an inversion, directing impurity and pollution at the object of the beating."

                      The fact that the shoe-as-anathema idea stretches across the Arab world into India suggests that
                      the cultural aversions (and the attendant insults) predate Islam and may have had their origins in a
                      poorly understood--but basically correct--connection between dirt (i.e., pollution) and footwear. In
                      societies where levels of public hygiene are low (e.g., much of the Middle East and the Indian
                      Subcontinent), it is still commonplace to remove one's shoes before entering a private home, and not
                      just places of worship. Which begs the question, of course, of why shoes weren't so removed in
                      medieval Europe, whose streets were just as dung-flecked, or are not so removed in present-day,
                      non-Muslim Africa.

                      But the fact remains that Iraqis today are deriving sumptuous pleasure--part ritual, part
                      catharsis--from their chance to hit Saddam with the soles of their shoes. In this, they are not merely
                      degrading him but also exacting retribution for bastinadoes suffered in the past. There probably isn't a
                      single non-Baath-Party Iraqi who wasn't personally beaten or knocked about by the authorities--or
                      who doesn't know someone so ill-used.

                      Ultimately, there could also be a practical explanation for "the shoes." It may well be that in
                      impoverished Iraq, nobody except those in the military could afford decent footwear. So kick the
                      bronze head too hard and you hurt your own foot. Better, and safer, to take the shoe off and go
                      thwack, thwack, thwack, thwack.

                      Mr. Varadarajan is editorial features editor of The Wall Street Journal. 

Concealed shoesConcealed shoes from Pershore, Worcs.

Steve Harber from Suffolk lives near the village church at Ilketshall St Lawrence near Halesworth, and wanted to have explained a curious mark on the tower roof. He wrote: 'The tower has a flat roof with lead covering. Engraved in the lead are a number of old marks, some of them appear to be drawn around the engraver's boot. A distinctive common mark within the foot-shaped marks is a body tied in a sack on gallows. The tower is never visited and the existence of the marks is not well known. I often wondered why these are there and who would have put them there.'

The marks on the church tower are engraved into the lead roof. There are several shoes. Most are dated - from the sixteenth century to the early twentieth - and they have various engraved marks inside them including a crown, a swastika and a hanged man. Local archaeologist Mike Hardy pointed out that the shoes were different shapes - some with pointed toes, some square and some round.

The shoe marks on the church roof are not hidden shoes. They are drawn around the outside of a shoe - the shape of the shoe helps with dating if no date is inscribed. The marks, too, are symbols. The crown meant authority, and the swastika was a benign symbol until the twentieth century (it gets its name from the Sanskrit word svastika, meaning well-being and good fortune). The hanged man also represented a search for spiritual well-being. There is little in the way of contemporary accounts about this apparently very common practice, but it was a secretive custom associated with folk magic.

Sue Constable of Northampton Museum explained that concealing shoes is a well-known folk custom and is so common throughout the country that the Museum has set up a Concealed Shoes Index to record all the occurrences. The custom would appear to be a charm to ward off malevolent spirits who might enter buildings, particularly homes, at inaccessible places - chimneys are especially common hiding places. The Museum receives an average of one find a month, but Sue Constable says that hundreds of finds every year may well be simply thrown out by builders. In Britain as many as 50 date from before 1600 and the numbers rise to more than 500 in the nineteenth century, and then the finds tail off. Shoes are often found hidden in chimneys, either on a ledge or in specially built cavities behind the hearth into which items could be placed from above. Sometimes they were hidden under bedroom floors.

             The earliest reference to the use of shoes as some kind of spirit trap comes from the 14th century.  It
             regards one of England’s unofficial saints, John Schorn from Buckinghamshire, who was rector of
             North Marston 1290-1314.  His claim to fame is that he is reputed to have performed the remarkable
             feat of casting the devil into a boot.  The oldest concealed shoes date back to roughly the same time
             as Schorn but there are very few examples from that period - he may have begun the tradition, or it
             may simply be that his legend records a pre-existing practice.

Over 1200 examples recorded so far.  Many people who have discovered shoes in buildings feel very strongly about not removing or even discussing them.  It is important, therefore, to treat individual feelings about these items sensitively.

              26.2% of shoes are found in chimneys, usually on a ledge within the chimney.  Shoes can be discovered in large groups and sometimes with
              other artifacts.  11.3% are pairs of shoes - most are odd.  40% of shoes belonged to children.

             The shoe was not a cheap item, it may have been one of the most expensive purchases a family had
             to make.  Therefore shoes were repaired as much as possible before being discarded.  Clearly, by the
             time the shoe was discarded it provided a unique record of the wearers individual foot.  Here we may
             have a similar principal to the witch-bottle, fooling the witch/spirit that the person is there in the
             chimney.  It was probably hoped the shoe would trap the spirit or act as a decoy of some sort.  The
             location of shoes, often either within or near to the hearth, does suggest some kind of protective

             There are some specific points to record in the case of shoes in addition to the general advice given
             on the 'how you can help page'.  The location of the find in relation to north in the building should be
             recorded, along with how many lace holes they have, whether (in your opinion) it was a man's,
             woman's, boy's, girl's, child's shoe and the date of the find also.  As with all finds, it is important to
             attempt to ascertain the date of the building.

             Garments have also been found concealed in buildings and may have a similar significance in that
             they are 'valuable' rubbish.  They too have highly important personal significance and may be a
             similar practice to that of concealed shoes.  Some research and conservation on these finds has been
             undertaken at the Textile Conservation Centre in Winchester.

Shoes were thought to have a special quality. They were repaired and repaired until they became very individual. They came to be thought of as the item of clothing which most clearly contained the soul of the individual. There are suggestions that they were a fertility symbol. In the nursery rhyme, the old woman who lived in a shoe had so many children she didn't know what to do.

             June Swann was the pioneer of research into concealed shoes with an article in 1969 for the Journal
             of Northampton Museum and Art Gallery - this  museum holds a very large collection of concealed shoes.

Further reading
Emily Brooks, 'Watch Your Step' (The National Trust Magazine, no.91, Autumn 2000)
Timothy Easton, 'Spiritual Middens' in Encyclopedia of Vernacular Architecture of the World, vol1, (Cambridge University Press, 1997)
Ralph Merrifield, The Archaeology of Ritual and Magic (Batsford, 1988)
Iona Opie and Moira Tatem, editors, A Dictionary of Superstitions (Oxford Paperbacks, 1992)
David Pickering, Cassell Dictionary of Folklore (Cassel Reference, 1999)
Jacqueline Simpson and Steve Roud, A Dictionary of English Folklore (OUP, 2001)
June Swann, 'Shoes concealed in buildings' (Journal of the Costume Society no.30, 1996, pp.56-99)
Cameron, Pitt, Swann and Volken, ‘Hidden Shoes and Concealed Beliefs’, Archaeological Leather Group Newsletter, issue 7, Feb 1998.

Petrus Camper (1722-1789) on the Shoe

Petrus Camper, "On the Best Form of Shoe," translated from Dutch into English by James Dowie, The Foot and Its Covering (London: Hardwicke, 1861): xxvii-44.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau's commentary about native's view of European shoes, A Discourse Upon The Origin and Foundation of the Inequality Among Mankind 1761 anonymously-translated English publication preserved all of Jean-Jacques Rousseau's original footnotes. Handout

Plate I, Fig. 1. The foot is divided into three parts, of which the principal, N, E, is called the Tarsus; E, D, the Metatarsus; and D, A, the Toes. 

Plate I, Fig. 2. The change which takes place in the foot when we walk is of great importance: the great toe, A, K, then rests upon the ground; the metatarsus, or instep, rises from b to B; and the line d, c, lengthens and extends to B, increasing the interval c, B, which is in this figure 1/4 of an inch French measure, and, in consequence, a whole inch in nature.
The soles of our shoes and boots, which are generally made of the strongest leather, become, in consequence of this elongation of the foot, too short in proportion. The shoe then pinches the heel, and produces still worse effects upon all the toes, especially the great toe; for as the sole cannot yield from c to B, A yields towards c, and the great toe is bent as at f, forming the [blue] angle e, f, D, together with the rest of the toes. Thus are produced corns upon the joints, and other painful deformities of the feet. 

Plate I, Fig. 3. The astragalus, R, M, I, which supports at R the whole weight of the body, is thus sustained by two [red] oblique lines, R, B, R, A.
The great toe becomes bent towards P, and the higher the heels, the greater will be the distortion,—the centre of gravity, R, acting more and more in the line R, a; and the higher the heel and the smaller the sole, the greater becomes the risk of falls and sprains.

Plate II, Fig. 6. As the leg rests on the foot, and the centre of gravity acts in a line perpendicularly, a line designated by Borelli linea propensionis, and represented by R, S, in Figs. 3 and 6, it follows that this line ought always to be observed. 
The best position for the buckle or fastening of a shoe is, therefore, directly over the top of the instep, neither too high nor too low, exactly over the spot where the triangular ligament connects the tendons of the extensors of the toes with the bones of the tarsus and metatarsus, at O, N,.

Plate I, Fig. 4. It is more than probable that in those persons whose feet have not been distorted by the use of high heels, the heel-bone receives the anterior part of the astragalus (H) upon the eminence M, L, which is then divided into two small sinuses (E and F, Fig. 4), separated by a space, K.
Plate II, Fig. 8. If we consider the sole of the foot (Fig. 8), we shall see that the diagonal line of this supposed lozenge does not pass through its centre, but that the exterior portion, A, B, D, M, Fig. 8, considerably exceeds the interior, A, B, E, N.
The sole of the foot is generally of the form represented in Fig. 8; the part comprising the toes, E, D, B, in F, E, occupying about one-third of the whole length of the foot.
The toes are naturally all parallel to the diameter A, B, as I have represented them in Fig. 8, which is the outline of a foot that has not been distorted by ill-made shoes.
There is an old and most unreasonable custom of making the shoes for both feet alike, from one and the same last, with the additional absurdity of giving the sole a certain arbitrary form, as at A, O, D, S, B, R, E, N, Fig. 8. 

Has anything really changed since Camper's day....?!
The [red] sole, A, N, E, R, B, S, D, O, Fig.8, copied from the latest Parisian pattern, was intended for the [blue] sole of the foot, A, I, Z, K, M, A, Fig. 8!!

Plate I, Fig. 5. Very frequently, however, we find but one sinus, as at E, F, Fig. 5.
It appears to me very probable, then, that these sinuses become united from the pressure to which they are subjected by high heels, causing the obliteration of the division K.

Plate II, Fig. 7.

Plate II, Fig. 9. The erect position being a necessary prelude to walking progression, it may be well, in idscussing this subject, to look to what the celebrated Borelli has left us in his excellent work on the Animal Motions. Our principal business being to explain the manner in which we raise our fett from the ground in walking, we may turn to Fig. 9, where A, C, B represents the length of the leg and foot, turning upon the hipjoint at A. C indicates the knee. Let us imagine that a man standing on his right foot begins to walk along the street, G, F, it is certain that if there should be a stone, E, B, at B, he will strike his foot against it; but if the heel of the shoe should be of the height E, B, the centre of movement at the hip being thus raised to D, he will avoid it, because the foot will pass from H to I
18th-century shoeshop in Diderot's Encyclopedia


Beauty is Shape by Pauline Weston Thomas for Fashion-Era.com

The Cultural Body Alterations University of Iowa Medical Museum




Advertisement, 1961. (I. Miller Shoes)
Bernard Rudofsky, The Unfashionable Human Body (Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1971): 116.
Bernard Pfriem "The foot that fits the shoe: According to the gospel of our shoemakers, the big toe ought to be in the place of the third one. Hence shoes for symmetrical feet are not just a fashion but an unwritten law. To drive home the immensity of this abomination, Bernard Pfriem, portraitist of the human body par excellence, has obliged the author by interpreting the shoe designers' unfulfilled dream." 3/28/71
Bernard Rudofsky, The Unfashionable Human Body (Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1971): 113.
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Miriam Claude Meijer, Ph.D. 

International Shoe Sizes

Adult Mens and Womens Shoe Size Conversion Table

Europe 35 35½ 36 37 37½ 38 38½ 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46½ 48½ Europe
Japan Men 21.5 22 22.5 23 23.5 24 24.5 25 25.5 26 26.5 27.5 28.5 29.5 30.5 31.5 Japan Men
Japan Ladies 21 21.5 22 22.5 23 23.5 24 24.5 25 25.5 26 27 28 29 30 31 Japan Ladies
Mexico           4.5 5 5.5 6 6.5 7 7.5 9 10 11 12.5 Mexico
Australia & U.K. Men 3 4 5 6 7 8 10 11 12 13½ Australia & U.K. Men
U.K. Women 3 4 5 6 7 10½ 11½ 13 U.K. Women
Australia Women 4 5 6 7 8 10½ 11½ 12½ 14 Australia Women
U.S. & Canada Men 4 5 6 7 8 9 10½ 11½ 12½ 14 U.S. & Canada Men
U.S. & Canada Women 5 6 7 8 9 10 10.5 12 13 14 15.5 U.S. & Canada Women
Russia & Ukraine Women 33½ 34   35   36   37   38   39         Russia & Ukraine Women
Inches 9 91/8 93/8 95/8 97/8 10 101/8 10¼ 10½ 10¾ 11 11¼ 11½ Inches
Centimeters 22.8 23.1 23.5 23.8 24.1 24.5 24.8 25.1 25.4 25.7 26 26.7 27.3 27.9 28.6 29.2 Centimeters
Mondopoint 228 231 235 238 241 245 248 251 254 257 260 267 273 279 286 292 Mondopoint


Girl's Shoe Sizes

Europe 26 26.5 27 27.5 28 28.5 29 30 30.5 31 31.5 32.2 33 33.5 34 35 Europe
Japan 14.5 15 15.5 16 16.5 17 17.5 18 18.5 19 19.5 20 20.5 21 21.5 22 Japan
U.K. 8 8.5 9 9.5 10 10.5 11 11.5 12 12.5 13 13.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 U.K.
U.S. & Canada 9.5 10 10.5 11 11.5 12 12.5 13 13.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 3 3.5 4 U.S. & Canada

Top of page

"Size Matters Not!" Sure... If you are Yoda. Otherwise, you need to use a conversion table.

Size matters not. Look at me, judge me by my size do you, hmm? And well you should not, for my ally is the Force and a powerful ally it is.
Boys shoe sizes
Europe 29 29.7 30.5 31 31.5 33 33.5 34 34.7 35 35.5 36 37 37.5 Europe
Japan 16.5 17 17.5 18 18.5 19 19.5 20 20.5 21 21.5 22 22.5 23 Japan
U.K. 11 11.5 12 12.5 13 13.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 3 3.5 4 4.5 U.K.
U.S. & Canada 11.5 12 12.5 13 13.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 3 3.5 4 4.5 5 U.S. & Canada



English 5½  6½  7½  8½  9½  10  10½  11  11½  12  13  14  15 
US  5½  6½  7½  8½  9½  10  10½  11  11½  12  12½  13  14  15  16 
French  37½  38  38½  39  40  40½  41  42  42½  43  44  44½  45  46  46½  47  48½  49½  51 
Japanese  23½  24  24½  25  25½  26  26½  27  27½  28  28½  29 29½  30           


English        3 4 5 6 7 8
US 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 10½ 11
French 34 34½ 35 35½ 36 37 37½ 38 38½ 39 40 40½ 41 42 42½
Japanese       22 22½ 23 23½ 24 24½ 25 25½ 26 26½ 27 27½


English  2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 11½ 12 13 13½
US 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 12½ 13 1
French 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 32½
Japanese                         18 18½ 19 19½


English  1 2 3 4 5 6
US 2 3 4 5 6 7
French 33 34 34½ 35 35½ 36 37 37½ 38 38½ 39 40
Japanese 20 20½ 21 21½ 22 22½ 23 23½ 24 24½ 25 25½

Right-handed, Left-Footed

For most people, the larger foot is the opposite from the hand they write with. Try on shoes starting with your larger foot.
Baum I & Spencer AM (1980) Limb Dominance: Its relationship to Foot Length. J Am Pod. Assoc. 70(10): 505-507.
Jozef Kovacs with his shoe (AP) European size 217 men's shoe by Jozsef Kovacs

Shoe Width & Girth

Different shoe styles have different girths for the same shoe size, and so do different shoe materials. Some manufacturers measure in width, some in girth. Sometimes the difference  is 1/4 inch, sometimes 3/16ths of an inch and sometimes something else. The scale does not count upward in a logical, incremental way, but uses letters:

  AAAA (The narrowest)
  EEEE (The widest)

No one knowswhy there isn't a BB or a CCC :-)

Foot measurements

from The National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology Digital Human Research Center, Japan
Abbreviation Measurement item
1 M1  Bimalleolar breadth
2 M2 Medial malleolus height
3 M3 Sphyrion height
4 M4 Lateral malleolus height
5 M5 Sphyrion fibulare height
6 M6 Dorsal arch height
7 M7 Ball height
8 M8 Outside ball height
9 M9 Great toe tip height
10 M10 Great toe height
11 M11 Foot circumference
12 M12 Instep circumference
13 M13 Heel circumference
14 M14 Diagonal ankle circumference
15 M15 Foot length
16 M16 Foot breadth
17 M17 Foot breadth, diagonal
18 M18 Foot length (JLIA)
19 M19 Foot length (DIN)
20 M20 Instep length
21 M21 Fibular instep length
22 M22 Back of foot length
23 M23 Heel to medial malleolus
24 M24 Heel to lateral malleolus
25 M25 Foot breadth, diagonal (JLIA)
26 M26 Ball breadth
27 M27 Foot breadth (DIN)
28 M28 Heel breadth
29 M29 Ball flex angle
30 M30 Toe I angle
31 M31 Toe V angle

Shoes & schizophrenia?

Is there an association between the use of heeled footwear and schizophrenia?
Jarl Flensmark, Medical Hypotheses (2004) 63:740-747.

    Existing etiological and pathogenetical theories of schizophrenia have only been able to find support in
    some epidemiological, clinical, and pathophysiological facts. A selective literature review and synthesis
    is used to present a hypothesis that finds support in all facts and is contradicted by none.

    Heeled footwear began to be used more than a 1000 years ago, and led to the occurrence of the first
    cases of schizophrenia. Industrialization of shoe production increased schizophrenia prevalence.
    Mechanization of the production started in Massachusetts, spread from there to England and
    Germany, and then to the rest of Western Europe. A remarkable increase in schizophrenia prevalence
    followed the same pattern. In Baden in Germany the increasing stream of young patients more or less
    hastily progrediating to a severe state of cognitive impairment made it possible for Kraepelin to
    delineate dementia praecox as a nosological entity. The patients continued to use heeled shoes after
    they were admitted to the hospitals and the disease progrediated.

    High rates of schizophrenia are found among first-generation immigrants from regions with a warmer
    climate to regions with a colder climate, where the use of shoes is more common. Still higher rates
    among second-generation immigrants are caused by the use of shoes during the onset of walking at an
    age of about 11–12 months. Other findings point to the importance of this in the later development of
    schizophrenia. A child born in January–March begins to walk in December–March, when it's cold
    outside and the chances of going barefoot are smaller. They are also smaller in urban settings.

    During walking synchronised stimuli from mechanoreceptors in the lower extremities increase activity
    in cerebello-thalamo-cortico-cerebellar loops through their action on NMDA-receptors. Using heeled
    shoes leads to weaker stimulation of the loops. Reduced cortical activity changes dopaminergic
    function which involves the basal ganglia-thalamo-cortical-nigro-basal ganglia loops. Bicycle riding
    reduces depression in schizophrenia due to stronger stimulation by improved lengthening contractions
    of the triceps surae muscles. Electrode stimulation of cerebellar loops normally stimulated by
    mechanoreceptors in the lower extremities could improve functioning in schizophrenia.

    Cross-sectional prevalence studies of the association between the use of heeled footwear and
    schizophrenia should be made in immigrants from regions with a warmer climate or in groups of
    people who began to wear shoes at different ages.


    Schizophrenia is the most serious mental illness characterized by disturbances of thought, behaviour
    and mood appearing in young adults and by a deteriorating course. Many etiological hypotheses have
    been advanced, e.g., that schizophrenia is wholly genetic, or that environmental factors such as
    pregnancy or birth complications or early infections are also important, but have not succeeded in
    finding a correspondence between etiology, clinical findings, course and outcome, brain pathology and
    probable variations of prevalence. It is considered to be either a developmental or a degenerative
    disease, or a combination of both [1]. The diversity of symptoms have been difficult to explain by a
    unifying disease process [2].

    History and epidemiology

    The evolution of bipedal, plantigrade gait probably occurred about ten million years ago. The first type
    of shoe was a simple wraparound of leather, with the basic construction of a moccasin. Although
    sandals were the most common footwear in most early civilizations, shoes were also worn. The oldest
    depiction of a heeled shoe comes from Mesopotamia [3], and in this part of the world we also find the
    first institutions making provisions for mental disorders. Possibly they and all the others that followed
    were created because of the imperative need to care for people affected by schizophrenia. Hospitals
    with psychiatric divisions were created in Baghdad (AD 750) and in Cairo (873). Special insane
    asylums were built in Damascus (800), Aleppo (1270), and in the Muslim-ruled Spanish city of
    Grenada (1365) [4].

    In Europe around 1400 we find Middle Eastern shoes with a wedged sole, and cloglike overshoes
    called pattens, which by then were wedge-shaped at the back, raising the foot at the heel slightly
    above the fore-part of the foot, and thus functioning as heeled shoes. The creation of institutions for
    the insane was also imported to Europe from the Orient as hospitals with psychiatric divisions were
    erected in Paris, Lyon, Munich, Basel, and Zurich in the 13th century. Bethlehem hospital in London
    began receiving the insane in 1377. The first Christian European asylums were founded in Valencia
    (1409), Saragosa (1425), Seville and Valladolid (1436), and Toledo (1483) under the influence of Islam
    [4]. During the 15th and 16th centuries the number of asylums in Europe grew dramatically.

    In the beginning schizophrenia appears to be more common in the upper classes. Possible early victims
    were King Richard II (1367–1400) and Henry VI (1421–1471) of England, his grandfather Charles VI
    (1368–1422) of France, his mother Jeanne de Bourbon, and his uncle Louis II de Bourbon, Erik XIV
    (1535–1577) of Sweden, Juana (1479–1555) of Castile, her grandmother Isabella of Portugal and her
    grandson Don Carlos (1545–1563), of Schiller and Verdi fame [5]. Probably the upper classes began
    using heeled footwear earlier than the lower classes. Several studies from India since the 1930s
    confirm that schizophrenia first affects the upper classes [6]. The relation to a change in the use of
    footwear is also apparent here, since modern European and American footwear probably were being
    more common in India during these years. As early as 1740 the Danish–French anatomist Jakob
    Winslow [7] warned against the wearing of heeled shoes, expecting it to be the cause of certain
    infirmities which appear not to have any relation to it.

    In England the heeled shoe became fashionable from the beginning of the 17th century. The Civil
    Wars (1642–1651) brought army orders for boots and shoes, and the emergence of the modern
    pattern of shoemaking [8]. An increase in the use of heeled footwear followed and probably a gradual
    increase in the prevalence of schizophrenia [9]. Torrey and Miller [10] suggest that insanity rates
    increased at least sevenfold between the mid-18th and the mid-20th centuries. From the beginning of
    the 19th century a probable increase in the use of heeled footwear by children learning to walk led to
    the appearance of the classical juvenile type of schizophrenia [11] (see Fig. 1).

         Figure 1. Total admissions (all diagnoses) per 1000 population to asylums in Masssachusetts
         (averages of two yearly admissions per decennium) [12], England and Wales (five-year averages)
         [13], Baden (five- and four-year averages) [14], and Sweden (five-year averages) [15,16 and 17],
         during the 19th and beginning of the 20th century.

    In the United States insanity rates appear to have increased even greater than in England between the
    mid-18th and the mid-20th centuries. Shoe production increased in Massachusetts after the Revolution
    (1776–1783), and the prevalence of insanity/schizophrenia increased from the 1830s. It was common
    opinion during this time that mental diseases increased, and that the increase was most pronounced in
    the United States. During the 1830s and 1840s asylums were built in almost every state. Torrey and
    Bowler [18] report that in 1852 insanity was more common in manufacturing and mercantile
    communities in Massachusetts than in farming areas. These communities probably took part in the
    early industrial production or distribution of footwear in this state, making it probable that they used
    factory-made footwear earlier than other communities. The Civil War (1861–1865) gave a major
    impetus to mechanised shoe production, and the establishment of a shoe machine industry in
    Massachusetts led to shoes being made quickly and inexpensively, the use of factory-made, heeled
    footwear spread to the masses in the United States, and then to England, Germany, the rest of
    Western Europe, and all over the world, and the prevalence of schizophrenia increased everywhere.
    White [19] reviewed the data of the 1880 Census and noticed that the prevalence of insanity was
    higher in the northeastern states, and that it declined with the distance from them. A graph of
    admissions to asylums in Massachusetts shows a steep rise between 1828 and 1843. The increase of
    admissions to asylums in Connecticut comes some 20 years later, in New York State some 30 years
    later, and in Pennsylvania there is but a slow rise up to 1875.

    In Germany mechanised shoe production was established later than in the United States and England.
    Total admissions to asylums in Baden rose steeply between 1887 and 1907. Kraepelin was director of
    the Psychiatric Clinic at the University of Heidelberg 1891–1903, and in the middle of the steeply
    rising phase of the schizophrenia epidemic in this state he wrote the 4–7th editions of his textbook. An
    increasing stream of young patients more or less hastily progrediating to a state of severe cognitive
    impairment made it possible for Kraepelin [20] to delineate dementia praecox as a nosological entity.

    In Sweden industrial shoe production started in the 1870s, but did not make a breakthrough until tariff
    protection increased in 1897. Around 1908–1910 factory made shoes were available for the rural
    population. In 1913 the shoe industry had enough capacity for the needs of the Swedish market.
    During World War I there was a shortage, thereafter the prevalence of schizophrenia rose.

    Hare [21] discusses the increase of admissions to asylums in England between 1859 and 1909 and
    concludes that schizophrenia could account for at least 40% of the increase. Eaton et al. [22] state
    that the majority of patients with psychosis in Massachusetts from 1840 to 1940 had schizophrenia.
    The situation in Sweden in the beginning of the 20th century probably was similar, manic-depressive
    disorder did not show much change over time, and the number of beds was always insufficient to
    allow admission of minor afflictions. Shorter [11] suggests that neurosyphilis and alcoholism together
    represented overall only a fraction of all admissions in the Western World, and that there is enough
    evidence to justify the conjecture that the incidence of schizophrenia rose significantly during the 19th
    century. It is probably justifiable to assume that the figure illustrates the approximate rise in incidence
    of schizophrenia in the four populations.

    After heeled shoes is introduced into a population the first cases of schizophrenia appear and then the
    increase in prevalence of schizophrenia follows the increase in use of heeled shoes with some delay.
    After the prevalence of schizophrenia has reached a maximum there probably is some decrease,
    although there is no decrease in the use of heeled shoes. Evidence from nearly a century of
    epidemiological research indicates that schizophrenia occurs in all populations with a prevalence rate in
    the range of 1.4–4.6 per 1000 population [23]. Different methods of case finding and ascertainment
    will result in different prevalence rates and so will demographic differences. Many studies of
    geographical variations have been criticized for imperfect methodologies but can probably not be
    ignored, especially not the modern migration studies. They do, however, not point in any single
    etiological direction.

    In the mid-latitude climates people traditionally wore flat shoes or boots, in some regions and during
    summer some people, particularly children, went barefoot, in Sweden for example well into the 20th
    century. Böök [24], in a study of an isolated population of predominantly Finnish ethnicity in the Torne
    Valley in Sweden in 1949, found a schizophrenia prevalence rate of 9.5 per 1000, and Böök et al. [25],
    in a re-study in 1977, 17 per 1000, one of the highest rates found in any major study in the world to
    date. In Ireland insanity rates appears to have increased more than in England between the mid-18th
    and the mid-20th centuries [10]. High rates of schizophrenia have consistently been reported and
    might partly be explained by selective out-migration over several generations [26]. Most of the Irish
    have, however, gone barefoot well into the 19th century. Rainfall is important for the use of footwear,
    the western parts of Ireland have more rainfall and also have a higher rate of schizophrenia than the
    north-eastern parts. Torrey et al. [27] found a prevalence rate in a rural area in Western Ireland more
    than seven times the rate found in Dublin [28], where there also is less rainfall. Data collected
    1962–1966 show that the prevalence of schizophrenia in Istria was twice that in the rest of Croatia,
    which probably indicates that the change to heeled shoes occured earlier in Istria, which belonged to
    Italy 1919–1947, had a large proportion of Italian inhabitants and probably was more influenced by
    West European fashions [29]. Opankes, a one-piece moccasin-style construction, were widely born in
    rural Balkan regions, where they were often made by the wearers themselves, and mass produced by
    the 19th century. The consistently high rates also found in Istria might also be partly explained by
    selective out-migration over several generations [26]. Among Native Americans, who used moccasins,
    a relative infrequency of schizophrenia has been noted [6]. The Hutterites and the Amish are
    members of conservative Christian groups of Austrian, Swiss, and German origin now living in the
    United States and Canada where they operate farms, remain aloof from outside society and retain
    their uniform 16th and 17th century European folk costumes, which included flat shoes. In the 1930s
    insanity was said to be almost non-existent in the Hutterite population. By 1944 members were to
    some extent authorized to wear modern "high" shoes. In 1950–1953, Eaton and Weil [30] and Torrey
    [31] found a schizophrenia prevalence rate of 1.3 per 1000. A re-study in 1992–1993 by Nimgaonkar
    et al. [32] found 1.2 per 1000. There were only four cases of schizophrenia among ?12.500 Amish
    studied 1976–1980 by Egeland and Hostetter [33], that is circa 0.3 per 1000. The Amish and the
    Hutterites prevalence rates are less than 25% of the rates reported for rural areas in the United States
    in recent studies [28].

    In the coldest climates people traditionally wore flat boots. The Saami live in Norway, Sweden,
    Finland, and the Kola Peninsula in Russia. The Swedish Census of 1930 [34] reports a prevalence of
    insanity in the Saami that was twice that in the general population. Andersen [35] found more acute
    psychoses in a Saami than in a non-Saami population. In 1944 Bremer [36] found a schizophrenia
    prevalence rate of 5.3 per 1000 in Berlevåg, an isolated fishing village in Northern Norway on Barents
    Sea predominantly inhabited by people of Norwegian ethnicity. A relative isolation from the main parts
    of Norway made them use Saami boots right up to the 1930s. Lynge et al. [37] found a higher
    prevalence of schizophrenia in the Greenlandic population compared to the population in Denmark.
    The traditional Greenlandic footwear is a sealskin boot, and as long as these were worn there probably
    was no schizophrenia in the population, older literature describes it as at least very uncommon.

    In the warmest climates people traditionally went barefoot or used sandals. The almost complete
    absence of schizophrenia is noted in several reports from Africa before World War II [6], Torrey [28],
    in a review of prevalence studies, reproduces data from Ghana in 1984, 0.5 per 1000, and Botswana in
    1986, 2.0 per 1000. In the Pacific Islands many observations indicated the absence of schizophrenia.
    There was a 20-fold difference in rates between some highland districts and some coastal districts,
    this could be explained by more contacts with the Western World and its fashions [38]. Surveys in
    Taiwan in three Chinese communities 1946–1948 [39] and in four Aboriginal tribes 1949–1953 [40]
    reported a schizophrenia prevalence rate of 2.1 per 1000 in the Chinese and between 0 and 1.1 in the
    Aborigines. Probably the use of modern shoes was more common in the Chinese, who mostly lived in
    the towns and were more influenced by Western fashions.

    Other studies show the effects of people migrating from a region with less common use of heeled
    footwear to a region with more common use. The high prevalence of insanity in European immigrants
    in the United States was noted already in the middle of the 19th century. Odegaard [41] found higher
    total admission rates of Norwegian immigrants than of native Americans in an asylum in Minnesota
    between 1889 and 1929. The admission rate for schizophrenia was also higher in Norwegians in the
    Minnesota asylum than in an asylum in Norway. White noticed that the prevalence of insanity in
    African–Americans increased when they migrated from the South to the North, and Ödegard [42]
    mentions the immigration from Puerto Rico to New York City after World War II, where the
    frequency of schizoprenia in immigrants was nearly double that in native New Yorkers. Schizophrenia
    has been common among Irish immigrants to the United States [6], probably because they began to
    use heeled footwear. High rates of schizophrenia in African–Caribbean immigrants in Britain since the
    1960s [43] higher admission rates in the second-generation than in the first-generation immigrants [44],
    and a morbid risk in second-generation siblings of patients with schizophrenia that is 3.0–6.2 times
    higher than in the first-generation ones [45 and 46], strengthens the possibility that the high rates are
    attributable to an environmental factor, probably that children in Britain learn to walk wearing shoes
    while children in the Caribbean go barefoot. High rates of schizophrenia has also been found in The
    Netherlands in immigrants of British-Indian and African origin from Surinam and the Netherlands
    Antilles, in immigrants from Morocco and Cape Verde but not from Turkey [47]. Turkish men have
    worn heeled footwear since the 15–16th centuries, West European styles since mid-19th century,
    women from the 1870s. High rates have also been found among immigrants to Sweden, especially
    from East-Africa [48].

    Torrey [6] discusses the role of civilization/industrialization in the etiology of schizophrenia. The
    industrial revolution, which started in England in the middle of the 18th century, resulted in the 19th
    century in a GNP per capita which was nearly double that of the rest of Western Europe and the
    United States, not until the 1890s was England surpassed by the United States, whose economy grew
    dramatically after the Civil War. No other factor associated with this general economic development
    can explain the rapid increase in the prevalence of insanity/schizophrenia in Massachusetts during the
    1830s and 1840s but the increased shoe production.

    There probably is a linkage between an increase in space and time in the use of heeled footwear, and
    an increase in the prevalence of schizophrenia. A slowly rising epidemic in England, probably from the
    end of the 18th century, was followed by a more rapidly rising epidemic in the United States from the
    1830s, and then in Germany and Sweden. Such epidemics of schizophrenia could probably only have
    been caused by one and the same etiologic factor acting in populations with individuals genetically less
    adapted to the change. Changing symptoms and incidence, increasing age of onset, a change in course
    and outcome strengthen the idea of epidemics of schizophrenia. World, ethnic, and national dress are
    inter-related in today's global community, and modern studies of schizophrenia occurence in different
    groups and different countries often find no great differences [49]. Differences found could be
    attributed to different time courses of prevalences in different groups.


    Lengthening contractions of the triceps surae muscles during walking results in synchronised barrages
    of impulses from the mechanoreceptors reaching the cerebello-thalamo-cortico-cerebellar loops where
    they increase cortical excitability [50]. The left and the right parts of the cerebellum are stimulated
    alternately. Stimulation of NMDA-type glutamate receptors leads to expression of synaptic proteins
    and modifications in synaptic and dendritic organization [51]. Using heeled shoes weakens the
    lengthening contractions and the stimulation of the receptors, and a decrease in cortical activity leads
    to a change in dopaminergic function thereby involving the basal ganglia-thalamo-cortico-basal ganglia
    loops, too [52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57 and 58]. Heath [59] found that electrode stimulation of the anterior
    parts of the cerebellum could improve functioning in schizophrenia. These parts are normally
    stimulated by impulses from stretch receptors in the lower extremities. Bicycling reduces depression in
    schizophrenia and this is probably due to the improved lengthening contractions of the triceps surae.

    Involvement of different loops in different brain regions leads to different symptoms and signs [60, 61,
    62, 63 and 64]. The neuropathology of schizophrenia represents the anatomical substrate of abberant
    functional connectivity [65]. Susceptibility genes for schizophrenia may have convergent effects on
    glutamatergic and other synapses [66].

    According to Ledebt et al. [67] gait initiation starts when the child stands up and then begins to fall
    forward. The first few months after onset of walking are followed by a period of development of
    anticipatory behaviour participating in a finer tuning of postural and locomotor components of gait.
    White children reach independent walking at a mean age of 11.6 months and black children at 10.9
    months [68]. Jamaican infants walk earlier than infants from five European countries [69], the warm
    climate probably giving them a better chance to walk barefoot. A study from Philadelphia in 1979 [70]
    found that infants receive their first walking shoes at an average age of 8.1 months. Such shoes look
    quite flat but are provided with insoles that are somewhat thicker in the heel part, so as to function as
    heeled shoes.

    The earlier in life children wear shoes the more vulnerable they may be as cellular proliferation and
    migration in the cerebellum does not cease until after the child begins to walk [71]. Degree of
    urbanization of birthplace or upbringing might be associated with the rate of schizophrenia and
    probably is a proxy variable for the use of shoes when the child begins to walk, urban children more
    often wearing shoes than rural children [72]. The seasonal variation of schizophrenia births [73] also
    could be explained by the use of shoes. A child born in January–March begins to walk about 11–12
    months later, in December–March when its winter and cold and the child probably has the least
    chance to go barefoot. Birth deficits in the summer and fall months could likewise be explained by the
    better chance of going barefoot. Data from the British 1946 Birth Cohort [74] show that milestones of
    motor development, particularly walking, were delayed in children who went on to develop
    schizophrenia as adults. Another study found that the ages at learning to walk was related to
    subsequent incidence of schizophrenia and other psychoses [75]. Gait peculiarities in schizophrenia
    were noted already by Eugen Bleuler.

    Schizophrenia is supposed to have its origins in developmental processes that transpire prior to the
    onset of clinical symptoms [1], but it is difficult to explain how an early static lesion could lead to
    clinically apparent schizophrenia twenty years later. A continuous faulty stimulation of the cerebellar
    loops during many years, often starting when the child begins to walk, may, after at least ten years,
    result in clinically apparent schizophrenia. Norwegian immigrants [41] spent at least 10 years in the
    United States before they were admitted to an asylum, that is, they had to use heeled footwear for at
    least so many years. Immigrants with schizophrenia or other non-affective psychoses spent a mean of
    nine years in Sweden before first contact with psychiatry [48]. That continuous faulty stimulation leads
    to schizophrenia implies progressive brain pathology, and Kraepelin originally described dementia
    praecox as a progrediating disease, and considered it to be a self-inflicted poisoning. The patients
    continued to wear heeled shoes in the asylums, and the continued faulty stimulation led to progressive

    The onset of schizophrenia during the adolescence may be related to the maturation of the dopamine
    controlled basal ganglia loops during these years [76], which is modulated by gonadal hormones [77].
    Reduced glutamatergic stimulation of the cerebellar loops may not have an apparent effect until
    puberty and early adulthood, when these loops mature [57 and 76].


    Many data suggest an association between the use of heeled footwear and schizophrenia and they
    could probably be questioned in many instances. I have however not been able to find any
    contradictory data. One possibility would be the existence of young patients not being able to use their
    legs during many years and yet having schizophrenia. I have never seen such a patient.

    I suggest that there is an association between the use of heeled footwear and schizophrenia.
    Cross-sectional prevalence studies should be performed, e.g., in immigrants from regions with less use
    of footwear, or for example in India where different groups of people begin to wear shoes at different

    The effects of the use of heeled and flat shoes during shorter or longer periods of time on cortical
    excitability [54], and on connectivity in cerebellar and basal ganglia loops [52 and 55] could be studied
    in patients with schizophrenia. A normalization of patterns would indicate the importance of the
    proposed neural pathways in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia.

    Patients could be recruited to clinical trials of the effects of using only flat shoes as long as possible on
    symptoms and cognitive deficits.


    June Swann, MBE, Northampton, England and Professor Håvard Dahl Bratrein, Tromso, Norway for
    contributions to the history of footwear.


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High heels for men

                  While women have for decades plundered the male
                  wardrobe, few men have been happy to embrace feminine
                  sartorial style.

                  But Rui Leonardes, a young shoe designer, took a step
                  towards balancing the score at the Royal College of Art's
                  MA Fashion Graduate show in London yesterday with a
                  collection of high heels for men.

                  His models teetered
                  down the catwalk in
                  six-inch, spike-heeled
                  stilettoes. The shoes,
                  constructed, were
                  hand-made in a mix
                  of leather, denim,
                  tweed, wool and bright
                  nylon to match various
                  suits and trousers.
                  One bright pink floral
                  pair came with a
                  matching jumpsuit.

                  "I wanted to question masculine stereotypes," said
                  Leonardes, originally from the Azores.

                  "I practised walking in them myself for two days. It's not
                  too bad. It's a bit like walking in cowboy boots, only

                  The models were not so sure. "I was certain I was going to
                  fall over," said Tilal Imani.

                  Thomas Donocik added: "They pinch your toes a bit, but I
                  don't mind. It's very rock 'n' roll."

                  Tibor Rohaly, a tutor in menswear technology at the RCA,
                  had just 15 minutes backstage to master the art of the
                  catwalk stiletto-strut when one of the male models was
                  pronounced incapable of walking without wobbling. Other
                  menswear collections featured variations on the skirt and
                  kilt, with Dracula cloaks and suiting recurrent favourites.

                  Womenswear tended to be warrior-like and the footwear
                  was generally practical and flat.

                  Stephanie Aman's collection featured chain-mail and silver
                  lace battle-tunics emblazoned with crusader crosses,
                  accessorised with knee-high gladiator boots.

                  Vrettos Vrettakos showed leather corsetry, seamed and
                  pleated like armour, with flimsy chiffon draperies and
                  Boadicea boots.

                  The Royal College of Art show, which featured the work of
                  29 MA graduates, brought the 2005 student fashion season
                  to a close.

The Perfect Fit: What Your Shoes Say about You

A woman's favorite pair of shoes is not merely an accessory, claims New York writer and stiletto enthusiast Cleary, but actually a window into her soul. The type of shoe that a woman wears can indicate her taste in clothing, her career goals and even her ideal mate. In this pocket-sized handbook, Cleary guides her readers through a "sole-searching" exercise to discover their inner "Shoe sun sign," then profiles the typical personality of each shoe type. For example, a flip-flop girl is "steady as a rudder," someone who "sparkles with the energy of being truly alive," while a woman who feels most comfortable in a T-strap usually has a "natural gustiness and Betty Boop-like cuteness." Filled with exhaustive puns like "sole-mate" and "arch-supporter," the book is as cheesy as a teen fashion magazine, and every bit as superficial. It is unlikely that a reader will learn anything about themselves that they did not already know before picking it up, but this breezy, illustrated giftbook will entertain those who love both fashion and horoscopes, but knows not to take either too seriously.

Benedictus Balduinus, De Calceo Antiquo

Amsterdam, Andreas Frisius, 1667. 28 engraved illustrations and one inserted folding letterpress leaf with transcriptions of Roman inscriptions, and decorative woodcut initials from three series. Contemporary vellum. With the armorial Esterhazy-Plettenberg bookplate of Schloss Nordkirchen. First edition of two works on the history of shoes from Adam to the author's time drawing on references to shoes in classical texts, the bible and in the law. With many quotes of classical, biblical and legal texts and numerous illustrations of different shoes, from ice skates to papal shoes. Each book with an index of authors cited such as Homer, Aristotle, Ovid, Martial and St. Benedict. The title-page of the first work unambiguously includes the second ("B. Balduinus de Claceo Antiquo et Jul. Nigronus de Caliga Veterum") but the second work, with its own pagination and signatures, also has its own title-page for separate publication ("Juli Nigroni Genuensis de Caliga Veterum dissertatio subseciva"). Constantijn Huygens owned a copy of the Balduinus, presumably also bound with the Nigronus.