Sunday, May 3, 2009

The history of wooden shoes

Although light sandals carved from smooth wood were discovered in the tombs of ancient Egyptians it is generally thought it was the Greeks then that Etruscan that used pattens and clogs. Wooden shoes were exquisitely carved and worn high (platform style) to keep the feet dry. The wooden shoes were highly decorated and included inlaid mother of pearl and silver. Some had jingles others woven sheaths to cover the forefoot. Turkish clogs were held next to the foot with a toe grip, similar to sandals. Because of the unique sound of the wooden shoe on the tile the footwear were called kapkaps and became were associated particularly with the Eastern Mediterranean. The fashion was most often found in the coastal areas of Asia Minor, Syria, and Egypt, from the Nile to the Euphrates. The origins of kapkaps remains clouded but most likely these were associated with ceremonial dress before they became a general fashion. Overshoes made from wood (pattens) were also know in Roman Times and worn by people living in the Ardennes region (Belgium and Luxembourg and parts of France). In Roman Times the Ardenne was inhabited by the Gauls and the wooden overshoe became known as "galoche" which later evolved into galoshes. Wooden pattens were serviceable, hardwearing and provided protection from the wet ground. Romans wore wooden clogs in the hot baths and these were referred to as "Tyrrhenian sandals." Wooden shoes were also worn in other parts of the world such as in Japan where young girls went to the temple wearing wooden clogs or getas. These were platform wooden shoes often 3-4 inches from the ground and were worn with tabi, a special sock. The Geta were made from nezuko wood because it was waterproof, lightweight and hardwearing. Reference to clogs was common place in the songs, poems and novels of the Meiji period at the turn of this century. For centuries Samuari warriors wore geta and zori sandals.

A new blog entitled Wooden shoes traces the history of clogs through the centuries.


  1. Wow! Great Post on history of wooden clogs. I never knew wooden clog sandals had such an interesting history. :)

  2. Nice post! Who would've thought that women's wooden clogs and boots were used for such practical purpose and not fashion!