Cinderella, dressed in yellow, went to Scotland and kissed a fellow

Via Cliopatria, a website with Scottish broadsides from 1810-1830. One is obviously satirical, announcing the arrival of a Chinese doctor Dr. Puff Stuff Sham Quirko Ye – Trick. The good doctor’s skill was admired by all the crowned heads of Asia, and he brings to Scotland his miraculous cures. He can grow new teeth, no doubt a popular claim given the state of English dentistry (back then). He can restore lost eyes and limbs. His skills kept the Chinese empress bearing children into her 80th year. He can cure cancer using something that sounds like moxabustion. Most interestingly, to me

He has also brought over the method of bandaging, by which the Chinese ladies confine their feet to that beautiful-smallness, has to be soarcely equal to the size of the great toe-nail of an English woman.

I know that the cult of small feet also existed in Europe, but is interesting to see footbinding presented in a fairly positive sort of way as late as 1830. Dorothy Ko sees the later critique of footbinding as inspired in part by a Western criticism and a new transnational context. I’m reluctant to draw a line where the joke ends and the serious begins in this text, but it seems that footbinding is still admirable here.

5 Comments

  1. Yeah, I kind of had that problem too. On the other hand, all the other things he promises to do are things that would be nice if you could do them, they are just not possible. Eventually footbinding becomes -the- symbol of Chinese vile backwardness. I found it interesting that at this point it is either something good or at least a joke.

  2. Is this what you present to your students? All this article showed is that gutter journalism has not changed in nearly two hundred years. Perhaps some history academic somewhere in the East will tell his/ her students that some newspaper printed in America or Europe in English stated Elvis is still alive, so it must be proof that Elvis is still alive.

  3. At this point, I am wondering whehter people reflected to the bound feet in embroidered shoes
    or the bound feet themselves.

  4. This piece is relatively early for European ‘critiques’ of footbinding, the chorus of disapproval really got stronger towards the end of the 19th century.

    But this article is satirical and given that the doctor’s NAME is ‘Sham’, ‘trick’, I wouldn’t take the author, even humorously, as ‘admiring’ footbinding, it came across to me as just another Oriental miracle this doctor could achieve. I would have thought the satire of the piece was aimed at various snake oil advertisers and the rise of interest in the mysteries of the East – and the fact that people would believe anything said or written about China.

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