Footwear refers to garments worn on the feet, which originally serves to purpose of protection against adversities of the environment, usually regarding ground textures and temperature. Footwear in the manner of shoes therefore primarily serves the purpose to ease the locomotion and prevent injuries. Secondly footwear can also be used for fashion and adornment as well as to indicate the status or rank of the person within a social structure. Socks and other hosiery are typically worn additionally between the feet and other footwear for further comfort and relief.
Chalcolithic leather shoe; ca. 5.000 BCE
Footwear has been in use since the earliest human history, archeological finds of complete shoes date back to the copper age(ca. 5.000 BCE). Some ancient civilizations, such as Egypt and Greece however saw no practical need for footwear due to convenient climatic and landscape situations and used shoes primarily as ornaments and insignia of power.
The Romans saw clothing and footwear as unmistakable signs of power and status in society, and most Romans wore footwear, while slaves and peasants remained barefoot. The Middle Ages saw the rise of high-heeled shoes, also associated with power, and the desire to look larger than life, and artwork from that period often depicts bare feet as a symbol of poverty. Depictions of captives such as prisoners or slaves from the same period well into the 18th century show the individuals barefooted almost exclusively, at this contrasting the prevailing partakers of the scene. Officials like prosecutors, judges but also slave owners or passive bystanders were usually portrayed wearing shoes.
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