100 BC-56 BC
Plain weave in hemp and hemp string
Length 26.5 cm x height 7.5 cm x width 15 cm
Museum no. LOAN:STEIN.344 (T.VI.b.i.009)
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London
On loan from Government of India and the Archaeological Survey of India
This peculiar looking shoe was discovered in a refuse heap, discarded most likely because of its worn holes in heel and ball of toes. The upper is made of two or more thicknesses of strong plain woven hemp or cotton, bound together by even rows of hemp string, giving a spot pattern. A drawstring is threaded around the upper edge, which by a clever method of crossing near the instep restricts the size of the opening and draws up the slack of the fabric over the toes into a sort of point. The thick sole has warp of hemp cord placed lengthways with weft of string plaited in ‘wrapped-twined’ manner. Furthermore, the entire sole is covered with tight knots of string, which would have the effect of the military sandals with nailed sole of the Romans or the climbing nails in a modern boot. This type of sole can also be seen in the footwear of the terracotta soldiers from Xi’an.
Many Chinese documents were found at this particular garrison station, named by Stein as T.VI.b, which might date it to 68-56 BC.