Notes on Culture & Antique Art, Ethnic Decor & Vintage Fashion | Wovensouls Art Gallery
The origins of this gently-but-strictly enforced rule in all traditional Asian homes might be many.
But I think the real reason is the art that is displayed on the floor….
Sounds reasonable right?
The real reasons go way deeper than that.
In the Indian context the head is the most respected part of the body and the feet the least.
Bowing and placing one’s head at the feet of another is the highest way of offering respect.
So in a dispute, when a turban is placed at someone’s feet it is a sign of complete surrender / defeat of one’s honor & dignity.
If one touches another life – human or dog – with one’s feet unintentionally one must immediately ask forgiveness.
In the same note, one may not touch books or money with feet as that is a sign of disrespect.
So feet already have a less-than-enviable position in the battle for power among various body parts.
This may be because they are the ones that take the body to all kinds of places – the cleanliness of which is not guaranteed at all.
So the feet – already in the lowest position literally also got relegated to the lowest position figuratively.
Further, Goddess Laxmi likes a clean home and may turn away if the home is not clean enough for her. And since she is the Goddess of wealth people do all they can to please her.
In older Indian houses there used to be a place to wash hands, feet & the face before coming indoors – a great practice followed even today to the extent possible.
Am sure if there was a way to do it, the fastidious elders (that I’m turning into myself slowly) would have commanded that feet be left outdoors….
So when shoes came along they took on the burden of the blame.
And were left outside the home.
I speak mainly for the traditional Indian context but this is valid in Chinese Singaporean homes as well. Today however, there are enough non-traditional families who don’t follow this rule any longer and so a blanket statement cannot be made about ‘all’ Indian / Chinese homes.
See more of this rug and others here on wovensouls.com