Lapas attēli
PDF
ePub

SHOES.*

PRIMITIVE FOOTWEAR.

Every civilized man, woman and child wears shoes of some description, and a part even of the savage peoples encase their feet in some sort of covering. Few, however, pause to think how shoes are made, where the leather they are made of is obtained, or how are produced the vast quantities of miscellaneous "findings” which contribute to the make-up of a complete shoe. Comparatively few people understand the various processes through which the raw material goes before being placed on the market as a finished product.

Ever since the making of shoes became a recognized craft, the shoemaker has played a conspicuous part in romance and fiction, and has been an interesting personage to authors of song and story. By some of them he has been lauded and honored; by others, derided and made the subject of merriment and ridicule. As an important character he has appeared in stage plays, poems and novels innumerable. As an embodiment of wisdom he has been idealized by the Chroniclers of the East, and as a hero the shoemaker has had the halo of romance thrown around him by more than one wielder of the pen. The gray-haired, horny-handed cobbler seated on a bench in his stall, with lap-stone and hammer, pounding out a precarious living, has been the subject of many a narrative. The Oriental story-tellers were fond of him. He appears in "Arabian Nights,” among the thousand and one romances, and he is found in Indian and Persian legends. Wherever he appears in the romances of the Oriental story-teller, the shoemaker is a fellow of infinite jest and droll good humor, preternaturally wise, merry and resourceful. Horace, the renowned poet, did not disdain the cobbler. The Horatian shoemaker is a man of wisdom, a person of light and leading. That famous little romance, a favorite of Oriental scholars, which tells the story of "Ahmed, the Cobbler of Ispahan," is full of human nature and as true in its portraiture to-day as it was three thou

* For the Production in Pennsylvania for 1901, see the closing pages of this report.

sand years ago.

In one of the Greek dramas allusion is made to the daily earnings of the shoemaker, and it is known from historical record, that the streets of Rome were encumbered with shoemaker's stalls in the reign of Domitian. But as the Factory System has gradually increased and come into general use, supplanting the old-time cobbler, much of the romantic element associated with the (alling has passed away and with it many of the characteristic legends and peculiar practices of shop tradition. Still there are few common-place articles of every-day use so replete with romantic and interesting observation as shoes.

The oldest or rudimentary forms of covering for the feet were sandals, a flat sole to be worn under the foot and fastened to the wearer in various ways by thongs passing between the toes, around the heel and over the top of the foot. Many and varied have been the additions to this simple footwear.

Because of its ancient origin, its peculiar and slow development through the various stages in the course of evolution by which it has arrived at its present complete and artistic perfection, the story of the shoe is interesting to the maker, the seller and the wearer of this indispensable article. Although it is probable that foot coverings of the most primitive sort were adopted as protection, it is nevertheless apparent that the first advances in footwear were also for the purpose of decorating the feet, rather than for utility alone. Even to-day, in some foreign lands, shoes are valued more for their ornamentation than for their serviceable qualities. This is evident in India and other Oriental countries where elaborately embroidered shoes are prized for their gaudy appearance rather than for durability. North American and Canadian Indians fantastically decorate their moccasins with bead work.

Research establishes the fact that ornamentation preceded utility. Some three thousand years ago, in Egypt, protection to the feet was entirely unknown. The pedal extremities were stained or painted. Orange color seems to have been the favorite hue, as it is frequently observed on the lower extremities of mummies, denoting its use in ancient Egypt. The same practice was followed by Hindoo women of the lower class and is observed in some quarters of the globe to-day.

Sometimes enormous anklets made of metal or bone, strings of wild animals or shark's teeth, or heavy metal rings on the toes are added to the decorations of the lower limbs by some of the wild tribes of the earth. While the women were staining their feet with orange color and adorning their toes and ankles with metal rings, it remained for a man to invent the first shoe. This was an incipient sandal, consisting of a mere strap, which passed under been the earliest style of footwear. From this crude beginning has been gradually evolved by the ingenuity and skill of shoemakers during the centuries, an article indispensable to man, in use almost the world over. Commercially, the shoe industry, which gives employment to thousands and puts into circulation untold volumes of money, is in importance probably second to none. Without shoes comparatively little glazed kid or sole leather would be used and a vast quantity of lesser materials manufactured especially for use in making shoes would be valueless.

It must not be supposed that the style of footwear passed directly from the open sandal to the closed shoe. The change was very gradual, and required decades to accomplish. Link by link has the chain of change and variation been forged, until down through the centuries, from the simple covering in vogue with the antideluvians, the beautiful artistic article of the twentieth century, with its elegant lines and graceful curves has been evolved.

Specimens from ancient Egyptian tombs indicate that sandals were made of plaited palm leaves, of papyrus stalks interwoven like a mat, or of leather. Latchets were sometimes passed through thongs at the sides of the soles, in order to provide fastenings. Sandals were sometimes pointed and turned up at the toes; those for the priests, we read, "were of strips of palm leaves nicely fitted together and furnished with bands made of the stems of the papyrus plants.” Ancient Hebrews used similar protection for the feet, often having a sole of linen cloth, felt, leather or wood, and sometimes protected with metal. Those worn by the soldiers were of brass and iron. Knights of a later period wore covering of steel or brass, in conjunction with their armor or coats of mail.

In ancient times there was attached a symbolism to nearly everything and not least among them was footgear. What would appear ridiculous to our modern civilization and customs, was held sacred in centuries gone by. To take the shoes from a captive was equivalent to a sentence of imprisonment; the restoration of the shoe indicated liberty. So, in the parable of the Prodigal Son, putting shoes on his feet denotes the father's reception of the penitent as a free man and as a son. To cast one's shoe over certain lands was to claim their possession,

Among the Romans the shoe was symbolical of rank or station. No one below a certain position could wear red shoes, and only Senators could have four latchets. This number made the shoe reach to the middle of the leg. It was then of light material, adorned with gold and silver crescents and precious stones. These splendid shoes were doubtless known to the ancient Britons while the Roman ruled them, but the Saxons retained their own rude “bootees” of raw hide, slit across the instep for greater ease and

2

freedom. As time passed and they became more refined, they dressed and tanned the skins, and dyed them brilliant colors; or, oftentimes they gilded them. Shoes taken from the tomb of Bervard, grandson of Charlemagne, are made of red leather, with wooden soles and made rights and lefts.

In Egypt and Syria, taking off one's slipper and striking another with it or throwing it at him is still a customary token of renunciation, as an unworthy son and, perhaps, playfully, of a daughter leaving her parents at her marriage, from which comes the curious old custom of throwing old shoes for good luck after a bride and bridgegroom departing for their new home. It is learned from several passages in the New Testament that the untying of sandals, as involving considerable trouble, was assigned to servants; the loosening of thongs or latchets, therefore, became a symbol of servi. tude.

Sandals of Hebrew women were made of skins of badgers and of other animals, and were frequently elaborately ornamented, probably with thongs embroidered with silk, silver and gold. Sandals were not usually worn in the house, but were put on for outdoor business or a journey, or for military expeditions.

Mohammedans now remove their shoes on entering a mosque, and Samaritans on approaching the site of their temple, do likewise. To bind on the sandals, to loose them, to carry them until needed were the duties of a servant or slave. The poor Hebrews often went bare-foot from necessity, but among the middle and upper classes this was a sign of mourning. Sandals were put off in token of reverence and of moral defilement, hence, the priests ministered bare-foot in the temple.

Assyrians wore a sort of half-slipper, encasing the heel and sides of the foot, but leaving the toes bare. It was made of wood or leather. Modern Turks, Assyrians and Egyptians now wear a light shoe resembling our slipper and sometimes a wooden shoe with a high heel. The Bedouins wear only sandals.

Among the ancient Greeks and Romans the use of shoes was not general. The youths of Sparta were trained to go bare-foot in order to harden them, and the heroes of Homer are usually described as without shoes when armed for battle. The shoes of the peasantry of the Abruzzi, in the south of Italy, to-day bear a close resemblance to the ancient Egyptian and Grecian footwear. Greek women, howere, wore shoes and their use finally became universal. There was great diversity in their fashion and the several sorts were named from the person who introduced them, or from the place where they came, as the shoes of "Alcibiades," "Persian," Cretan," "Athenian" shoes, etc. The "calceus” were like modern shoes in form, coverworn by senators and patricians were high, like buskins ornamented with an ivory crescent and called “calceilunati.” Some were made with tops and of all heights, even to covering the whole leg. These were called “calceamenta” and “cothurin.” The tops were often of the skins of wild animals, lacing up in front and ornamented at the upper extremity with the paws and heads arranged in a flap that turned over. The skin was dyed purple or some other bright color, and the shoes were variously ornamented with imitation of jewels and sometimes with cameos. It was common to make them open at the toe, so that this part of the foot was left exposed. In our own country discoveries of ancient footwear have recently been made which provide interesting matter for reflection. In Colorado, relics of the old cliff dwellers have been unearthed that are of great value to the antiquary, and among them are some that appeal directly to shoe and leather men. Thousands of years ago these peculiar people are said to have lived and pursued their occupations in the western part of our continent, long before Columbus thought of searching for America. Leather goods of various textures, from the soft and perfectly tanned buckskin to others as fine and pliable as it would be possible to produce by any method known to-day, were found among these relics. There were also sandals formed of the skins of animals and woven from the fibre of the soap weed, with soles so firm and durable as to prove a perfect protection to the feet in clambering over the sharp rocks of that country. Others were formed of corn husks, in as good a state of preservation as if of but a seasons growth, while many were half finished or but just begun--a task, indeed, never to be finished, but valuable to us in proving unquestionably that such articles were made and worn by a race of people who inhabited this hemisphere centuries ago.

Leaving the subject as it relates to the ancients and coming down to medieval times, we find, toward the close of William the Conqueror's reign, boots reaching to the middle of the leg were introduced. They were made from the famous Spanish leather from Cordova, and from the Norman word "cordwainer,” meaning "a worker in Cordova leather," has been anglicized the Saxon word “shoemaker." Later, we read of "slippers of purple with fret work of gold.” Wooden shoes were in common use throughout Europe during the ninth and tenth centuries, and were even worn by princes, but sometimes highly ornamented leather sandals or shoes were worn. The use of wooden shoes, called "sabots,” in Europe, is to-day confined to the peasantry. They are cheap and said to be comfortable, though they look clumsy and make a great clatter as their wearers trot along the paved streets. An effort

« iepriekšējāTurpināt »