Friday, January 2, 2009

In the beginning mocassin or sandal?

Because early footwear was made from vegetable and animal materials remnants are very rare which hampers any legitimate footwear provenance. Most anthropologists will guestimate animal skinned shoes appeared during the Ice Age (5000,000 years ago). Development of crafts and hunting existence combined with inclement weather in the Northern Hemisphere has lent many historians to believe the need for foot protection became apparent. The biggest find of shoes from this period is thought to date back to 8000 BC and belonged to Native Americans in Missouri. From the examples discovered there was evidence of left and right fittings and childrens’ shoes. Primitive shoes dating back to 3300BC were found on the Ice Man, discovered in the French Alps. According to (Spindler, 1993) the Neolithic herdsman of 3000 BC wore shoes on both feet similar to the footwear of the Laplanders. Each shoe consisted of an oval piece of leather with the edges turned up and bound with strong leather thongs. The material used was leather not fur and the soles were made from cowhide. Attached to the thongs was a net, knotted from grass cords to cover the instep and heel. Shoes were filled with grass to keep the feet warm. Boot leggings of fur were attached to leather soles and worn to protect against the weather. The boots were tied around the ankle with grass cords. Rough shoes protected the feet of Stone Age people from rocks and thorns. Mocassins are believed to be the first crafted foot coverings and were the successors to primitive wrappings. The design was both simple and practical. In warmer climated sandals evloved with stiff soles for protection and attached to the foot, usually with straps or thongs. The soles were made from almost anything that was at hand. Slate cosmetics tablets of Pharaoh Narmer (3000 BC) depict the Pharaoh followed by a slave bearing his sandals. The image suggests that in ancient Egypt the sandal was a sign of power and rank. The sandals were initially made from a footprint in wet sand. Braided papyrus was then moulded into soles and the sandals often had turned up toes. Sometimes the instep of the sandal was decorated with figures of men defeated in battle. The difference between the commoner's sandal and the Pharaoh's sandal was a peaked toe. This ostentatious extension had no function but merely denoted a person of high born status and historians believe this was the influence of Hittie (1280 BC). Soles were dyed and the sandals were made to accommodate right and left fittings. Egyptian women would adorn their sandals with jewels. Australian Aboriginal people wore rough sandals but only the central tribes were known to do so. The vast majority went unshod. Ceremonial shoes made from emu feathers were worn on special occasions by some members of the tribe.

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