People have worn shoes for thousands of years. Some believe footwear may predate other types of clothing. On Today's Style Watch, we'll look at a collection of shoes that has grown big enough to become a museum.
|Zhong Mantian's fascination with shoes goes back to the 1960s,|
when he went to work in Shanxi province in north China.
Zhong Mantian is a senior designer at the China Garment Design Research Center. One of his avocations is collecting shoes. Over the years, his home has been transformed into a veritable footwear museum.
Zhong Mantian, Shoes Collector, said, "This cabinet contains shoes worn by members of various ethnic groups. Most of the shoes are over 200 hundred years old. That one is filled with foreign shoes. This, apparently is from Italy, and this pair was bought in Hollywood."
Zhong Mantian's fascination with shoes goes back to the 1960s, when he went to work in Shanxi province in north China. The city where he was employed is considered the birthplace of traditional embroidered shoes. There, Zhong Mantian learned to see beyond the utilitarian value of shoes and to appreciate the aesthetics of footwear. In the designs on the soles and vamps, he began to see traditional Chinese values.
Zhong Mantian said, "These are China's traditional embroidered shoes. What really matters is the designs. This design is composed of garlic, leek, and red pepper. These vegetables and spices symbolize acumen, discretion and economy in the Chinese tradition. Those qualities are considered the most admirable in the local culture."
Most of the time, the embroidery on shoes reflects the most cherished wishes of farmers. That includes fertility, marriage, and family harmony. A farmer's life usually can be chronicled according to the number of shoes he has worn. Beginning with the embroidered shows, Zhong Mantian embarked on a more ambitious adventure in the world of footwear.