Saturday, September 15, 2007

Bintulu Ladies Shapely Foreheads and Feet

# Strange But True Facts

In the late 1860's while on a natural history mission to Borneo, the great Italian botanist by the name of Odoardo Beccari described the following practice of the Bintulu Melanaus ; " A most singular custom of these people is that of flattening the heads of their girl babies, giving their forehead a sharp slope backward; this malfunction is produced by applying a small board to the forehead shortly after birth, keeping it there for many months" ( Odoardo Beccari (1986)Wanderings in the Great Forests of Borneo,Oxford University Press,

This practice among the Bintulu Melanaus has stopped in the wake of modernisation, just as I have noticed in the early 1960's there were a few Chinese women walking around in their shophouses in Bintulu with bound feet. The effects of this practice of mutilation is well explained by John Fairbanks account as quoted in " Imperial China", a book edited by Franz Schurmann and Orville Schell (1968) pg.37.: "This crippling pratice by which a young girl's feet were tightly wrapped to prevent normal development seems to have begun about 10th century A.D. The'lily feet' which is produced through sufferings of hundreds of millions of young girls acquired great aesthethic and erotic value. In practice bound feet kept womankind from venturing abroad."

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