HISTORY OF SHOES
Shoes Meaning & Relevance Shoes have been a part of our lives since time immemorial. Its hard to imagine what life was like when shoes weren’t discovered yet. But how and when did they become such an important part of our lives? Shoes are claimed to have been originated in Mesopotamia around 1600 to 1200 BC. Whereas some sources claimed that the earliest shoe was found in the US state of Oregon dating back to 7000 or 8000 BC. The worlds oldest leather shoe was found in the Areni-1 cave complex in Armenia.
Some manuscripts claim that shoes were only worn by farmers to work in their fields in the extreme weather conditions. The earliest shoes were made from leaves and stitched together with twigs. People wore them as a protection to their feet. The materials of the early were highly perishable, making it difficult to find evidence of the earliest footwear. Shoes, back then, were made from various materials unimaginable in todays world.
Shoes Meaning & Origin
Sources states that in Ancient Europe, shoes were of papyrus leaves and were dated to be around 1500 years old. The Massai tribe of Africa were said to have made shoes out of animal skin. In India, shoes were made from wood, what is known as Kharam. Rice straw was widely used in making shoes in Japan and China. The Romans saw footwear as a symbol of power and only the royalty or the people of the royal court were allowed to wear shoes. The design of the shoes designated the rank of the officers working at the royal offices. Around 4 BC, the Greeks began wearing symbolic footwear which were heavily decorated to indicate the status of the wearer.
By the 15th century, shoes were common among both men and women in Europe. The common people wore modern high heeled shoes while the poor as well as slaves remained barefooted. Crakow was very famous in Europe in the 15th century. The shoe is said to be originated in the capital of Poland, Krakow hence the name. Chopines were created around the same time in Turkey. They were usually 7-8 inches high. These were a status symbol revealing wealth and social standing. By 1580, a person with wealth or status in society came to be called ‘high-heeled’.
Shoe making was commercialized in the mid 18th century. Large factories were made to produce shoes on an industrial scale. In the beginning, shoe making was a handicraft. But by the start of the 19th century, the process was completely mechanized. The sewing machine was introduced in 1846. By the late 1850s, the industry was beginning to shift towards modern factory. A shoe stitching machine was invented in Americain 1856 and perfected by 1864. The device was quickly adopted by manufacturers in England. By the 1890s, the shoe industry was mostly taken over by machines.
Archeological evidence suggests that east Asians may have worn shoes 42000 years ago. As we can see shoes have been a comfort since long ago. But even in those, shoes were not available to everyone. Only people of the aristocracy wore shoes. The common people were deprived of the comfort shoes provide. After the discovery of shoes, farmers in some places wore shoes to the fields. The shoes protected them from various insects or the dirt of the field.
Wooden shoes were first seen in India. Though the shoes were a bit expensive, people far and wide bought the shoes. A person with a pair of shoes was given respect and status in the society. at one point, the demand for shoes in the Indian market increased, leading to more cottage production of shoes. But as machines invaded the Indian industries, the cottage industries died.
At one point of time, men and women wore the same kind of shoes. But in time, they realized that both their needs were different so should be the shoes. Men wore shoes made of hard leather or materials which were made to survive extreme pressure or adverse heat. Women on the other hand, were given shoes made of delicate materials like fibres or leaves as an accessory. When women protested for their equal rights, they started wearing the same shoes as the men of that era did as a sign of protest. They wore shoes made of leather or animal skin.
In some places around the world, there are evidences of shoes made from bamboo. The bamboo was weaved together in the shape of a boat with even more bamboo and it was worn in the feet by farmers or merchants travelling long distances. After the discovery of animal skin shoes, the use of bamboo shoes died down.
For most of humanity , shoes were made straight with left and right being identical. But as humans evolved, they realized that different shoes could be made for the right and left feet. The first shoes in the world was meant to protect the bottom of the feet from adverse conditions. As time flew, shoes found a place in different cultures and tradition. Different shoes were made with lavish designs for special occasions. Though rarely worn, these shoes had a special place in the lives of people. People started to see shoes as an important part of the attire a person wore.
Though a lot of changed since shoes were first invented, even today most materials used to make shoes back then are used. The purpose of wearing shoes is still more or less the same. Though people nowadays wear shoes more as a style than comfort, a certain section of society still see shoes as a comfort.