Saturday, May 2, 2009
Wooden shoes in Antiquity
Although light sandals carved from smooth wood were discovered in the tombs of ancient Egyptians it is generally thought the Greeks then the Etruscan used pattens or clogs. Wooden shoes were exquisitely carved and worn high (platform style) to keep the feet dry. Some had sandal like straps whilst others had woven sheaths to cover the forefoot.
The wooden shoes were ornately decorated and sometimes included inlaid mother of pearl and silver. The wooden shoes were commonly used in bath houses and Indian and Persian clogs (knob sandals) were held next to the foot with a toe grip, similar to sandals.
Wood platform sandals were worn by the harem women and the unique sound of the wooden shoe hitting the tiled floors led the shoes to be called kap-kaps The fashion was most often found in the coastal areas of Asia Minor, Syria, and Egypt, from the Nile to the Euphrates. The origins of kap-kaps remains clouded but most likely these were associated with ceremonial dress before they became a general fashion.
According to Rossi (2000) at Eastern weddings knobs on women’s sandals were connected by a small chain which required the bride to take small mincing steps, signifying the bride’s sub-servience to her husband.
Overshoes made from wood (pattens) were also know in Roman Times and worn by people living in the Ardennes region (Belgium and Luxembourg and parts of France). At the same time the French region of Ardenne was inhabited by the Gauls and the wooden overshoe became known as "galoche" which later evolved into galoshes. Wooden pattens were serviceable, hardwearing and provided protection from the wet ground. Romans wore wooden clogs in the hot baths and these were referred to as "Tyrrhenian sandals."
Wood was also used to make footwear in Japan where young girls went to the temple wearing wooden clogs or getas. These were platform wooden shoes often 3-4 inches from the ground and were worn with tabi, a special sock. The Geta were made from nezuko wood because it was waterproof, lightweight and hardwearing. Reference to clogs was common place in the songs, poems and novels of the Meiji period at the turn of this century.
For centuries Samuari warriors wore geta and zori sandals made from woven straw or wood.