Boots (pair), boys, silk / cotton / card or leather, China, 1870-1930
As a predominantly rural society with a high mortality rate, it was the ambition of parents to have a large family. To ensure the continuation of a family line, children¬?s clothing and footwear was decorated with auspicious designs as a means of providing supernatural protection from evil forces as well as to ensure great success in the future. Decorative garments such as this were worn on special occasions such as Chinese New Year or other significant occasions, such as the 100 days celebration of a child's life.
Symbolism is a significant part of Chinese life. Chinese embroidery is one of China¬?s oldest art forms. The symbolism of Chinese embroidered motifs is an important decorative feature that invests meaning in clothing.
This pair of pink satin boots embroidered with a goldfish and pomegranate motif, exemplifies the meanings and symbolism Chinese mothers and grandmothers use to protect their children.
Fish were found mostly as motifs on children¬?s clothing and shoes. Fish, known in Chinese as yu, is a homonym for the word for plenty. The embroidered goldfish motif featured on the silk boots, signify abundance and plenty. The pomegranate, mostly found as a motif on children¬?s clothing, is full of seeds and therefore used by the mothers to represent their desire for sons. The colours red and pink were frequently used because these were considered auspicious.