Think you know every kind of footwear fathomed into existence by man and woman? Well, here’s a little run for your knowledge. See if you are, in fact, hot on the heels of such all-encompassing knowledge by reading this post, and catch a glimpse at a few shoes whose soles have been swallowed up by history.
10. Chopine. With roots in 15th-century Venice, these unbelievable platforms—which could tower up to a height of 30 inches—were symbolic of a wearer’s rank; the higher the platform, the higher the status the wearer. A similar shoe, the Manchu chopine, was a prevalent part of ancient Chinese womenswear.
9. Caliga. If you were a soldier in ancient Rome, the caliga was what you would have worn while ‘Roman’ around! With their thick soles tacked by iron hobnails for traction, reinforcement, and defense, these strappy sandals could soldier on through many a terrifying trek.
8. Ataderos. Silver-clad ankle boots like these, which hail from the 12th-15th century Chimu culture of ancient Peru, were literally to die for in their day and age; they are thought to have been used in an upper echelon burial.
7. Adelaide Boot. Named for the Queen Consort of William IV, these Victorian era booties were made of either silk or kid leather, and had no left-right differentiation. Their construction kept women’s ankles from being seen when their crinolines were scandalously swept atilt by the wind.
6. Slap Sole Shoe. Originally created in the 1630s to keep men’s riding heels from sinking into the mud, these unusual shoes were soon de rigeur for women (albeit in a much more decorative variety). And, as you may have guessed, the interesting name alludes to the sound the hinged sole made cracking against the shoe’s heel as one walked.
5. Louis Heel. Crafted for the 5 foot 3 Louis XIV, France’s “Sun King,” in order to make him look taller and, thus, more imposing, these unisex hourglass-shaped heels were flamboyantly decorated to indicate one’s privilege. A pair of circa 1660 heels Louis XIV owned were 5 inches tall and ornately decorated with battle scenes.
4. Poulaines. Also known as crackowes, these 15th century shoes had toes so long and narrow that they often had to be reinforced with whalebone or tied to the leg with a string so that the wearer could walk.
3. Lotus Shoes. In contrast to the incredibly long poulaines, the unbelievably small, ornately embroidered lotus shoes were what Chinese women with bound feet wore from olden times through to the early 20th century.
2. Chestnut Crushing Clogs. These nutty-looking contraptions were, thankfully, not worn as everyday footwear. Rather, they were used in 19th-century France to, as the name implies, separate acorn and chestnut shells from the nut meat, and subsequently grind the nut for flour or feed.
1. Kabkab. Fascinating shoes like these, also known as nalin, were donned by Turkish women when they went to the hammam. Wearing these, women wouldn’t have to step on the steaming, heated floor. It is even thought that these shoes may have influenced the creation of the European chopine!
Which of these shoes do you find the most fascinating? Or, is there something not on the list that intrigues you even more?