• LOGIN
  • No products in the cart.

The origin of slang term “穿小鞋” (chuān xiǎo xié)

The Chinese derogatory slang term "穿小鞋" (chuān xiǎo xié), which literally means "put on small-sized shoes", means "to retaliate someone secretly or to give someone a hard time". It usually happens on what the superior does to the inferior. Why is it called "穿小鞋"? 

“穿小鞋”是贬义词,字面意思是小号的娃娃鞋,实际指的是暗自报复、整人。通常指上级对下级。为什么“穿小鞋”有这样的意思呢? 

"小鞋" did not refer to the small-sized shoes for kids, but the embroidered shoes for the women with bound feet in the feudal times. 

古时候的“小鞋”,并不是我们现在所见到的给小孩子们穿的娃娃鞋,而是旧时代缠了小脚的妇女们穿的一种绣着花的“小鞋”。

The practice is likely to have originated from the time of Emperor Li Yu of Southern Tang, more than 1,000 years ago. Emperor Li Yu created a six-foot tall golden lotus decorated with precious stones and pearls, and asked his concubine to bind her feet in white silk into the shape of the crescent moon, and performed a dance ballet-like on the points of her feet on the lotus. The concubine's dance was said to be so graceful that others sought to imitate her. The binding of feet was then replicated by other upper-class women and the practice spread. Their feet got smaller after a long period of applying painfully tight binding to the feet, and they had to wear small-sized shoes. 

这种小鞋,是1000多年前,南唐后主李煜发明的“专利”。他别出心裁地命令宫女用很长的白布缠足,把脚缠成又小又尖的弯弯“月牙儿”,站在画有荷花的金莲台上跳舞,让自己观赏享乐,所以这种脚又叫“三寸金莲”。后来全国便兴起了妇女缠足的风气。缠足后,脚小了,当然只能穿小鞋了。

In the feudal times, bound feet, better known as the "three-inch golden lotus", were considered beautiful, while large unbound feet were judged crude. Binding feet was very popular among the women of Han nationality, and the practice has been handed down. At that time, single man and single woman were not allowed to see each other before wedding. Marriage of the young people is thoroughly determined by parents and matchmakers. For the man's families, the size of the woman's feet became the key to judging whether she's beautiful or not – the smaller her feet were, the more beautiful she was. The matchmaker would show the sample shoes of the single woman to the man's families, to inform the feet size. Once they agreed on the match, they would keep the sample shoes and order a tailor to make a pair of embroidered shoes of the same size as an engagement gift for the woman. On their wedding day, the bride must wear the embroidered shoes, in case they were fooled. 

在封建时代,我国汉族妇女一直沿袭着缠足陋习,脚缠得越小就认为越美,而美其名曰“三寸金莲”。过去婚姻大事全凭父母之命,媒妁之言,男女双方根本互不相见,所以,只能依照脚的大小,而衡量女人的俊丑。因此,在媒婆说媒时,必先请男方看女方的鞋样儿,以示女方脚的大小,一旦男方同意了亲事,就留下此鞋样儿了,按此样尺寸作一双绣鞋连同订婚礼物一起送到女方家,成亲那天,新娘必须穿上这双绣鞋,以防脚大而受骗。

If one wants to play trick on the bride-to-be, he/she will deliberately make smaller sized embroidered shoes to make her have a hard time. There's a story in the Song Dynasty. 

如果把这双绣花鞋故意做得很小,让新娘穿着难受,这不是故意整治她吗?这就是“穿小鞋”的由来,它是出于宋代的一个故事:


It's said that in the Northern Song Dynasty, there was a woman called "Qiaoyu". Her step-mother wanted to betroth her to a rich but ugly man, but Qiaoyu didn't agree. The step-mother had to give up her plan, but was determined to find some way to play trick on her secretly. 

相传北宋时,有一个名叫巧玉的姑娘,她的后娘要将她许配给一个又丑又哑的有钱人,巧玉坚决不从。后娘也没有办法,便暗暗想法子整治她。

Later, a matchmaker wanted to introduce Qiaoyu to a scholar. Qiaoyu was so pleased to accept him. However, her step-mother made a pair of sample shoes smaller than the actual size and gave them to the matchmaker. On the wedding day, Qiaoyu found it impossible to put on the shoes, and finally she failed to enter the sedan chair. She was too ashamed and furious that she committed suicide by hanging herself. It was a pity for people. 

恰逢有一位媒婆,把巧玉说给一位秀才。巧玉很中意,后母却在背地里剪了一双很小的鞋样子,让媒婆带给男方。 巧玉出嫁那天,这双鞋怎么也穿不上,害得她上不了轿。她又羞,又恼,又急,一气之下便上吊自尽了。人们非常惋惜。

That's how the original meaning was extended to the social life. Later, it referred to the behaviors aimed at giving others a hard time, or putting others in trouble with his/her official power. 

后来,人们把这一风俗引申到社会生活中,用来专指那些在背后使坏点子整人,或利用某种职权寻机置人于困境的人为“给人穿小鞋”。

The article is translated and editted by Chinlingo. Please indicate the source for any use, reproduction or transfer. 

本文由Chinlingo编译后发布,如需转载,请标明来源。

2016-12-28

0 responses on "The origin of slang term "穿小鞋" (chuān xiǎo xié)"

    Leave a Message

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Copyright ©right 2017 Chinlingo Inc. All rights reserved.