Why Footbinding Persisted in China for a Millennium

A small foot in Chi­na, no dif­fer­ent from a tiny waist in Vic­to­ri­an Eng­land, rep­re­sent­ed the height of female refine­ment. For fam­i­lies with mar­riage­able daugh­ters, foot size trans­lat­ed into its own form of cur­ren­cy and a means of achiev­ing upward mobil­i­ty. The most desir­able bride pos­sessed a three-inch foot, known as a “gold­en lotus.” It was respectable to have four-inch feet—a sil­ver lotus—but feet five inch­es or longer were dis­missed as iron lotus­es. The mar­riage prospects for such a girl were dim indeed.

The impossibility of perfect forgeries?

Imag­ine that Banksy, (or J.S.G. Bog­gs, or some oth­er artist whose name starts with “B”, and who is known for mak­ing fake mon­ey) cre­ates a per­fect­ly accu­rate coun­ter­feit dol­lar bill – that is, he cre­ates a piece of paper that is indis­tin­guish­able from actu­al dol­lar bills visu­al­ly, chem­i­cal­ly, and in every oth­er rel­e­vant phys­i­cal way. Imag­ine, fur­ther, that our artist looks at his cre­ation and real­izes that he has suc­ceed­ed in cre­at­ing a per­fect forgery. There doesn’t seem to be any­thing mys­te­ri­ous about such a sce­nario at first glance – cre­at­ing a per­fect forgery, and know­ing one has done so, although extreme­ly dif­fi­cult (and legal­ly con­tro­ver­sial), seems per­fect­ly pos­si­ble. But is it?