Tiger-head shoes

Last updated
Tiger-head shoes, Qing dynasty, 1800s AD Child's shoes, China, Shanghai, Qing dynasty, 1800s AD - Ostasiatiska museet, Stockholm - DSC09539.JPG
Tiger-head shoes, Qing dynasty, 1800s AD

Tiger-head shoes (Chinese :虎头鞋) are an example of traditional Chinese folk handicraft used as footwear for children. Their name comes from the toe cap, which looks like the head of a tiger. In the North of China, people also call them cat-head shoes. In Chinese culture, tigers are regarded as auspicious; people embroider the head and the upper of the shoes with tiger or tiger-head patterns, in the hope that their children will become as robust and dynamic as tigers. Also, the vivid image of tiger-head pattern was thought to expel evil spirits to protect their children from diseases and disasters. It is a complicated work to make tiger-head shoes, there are many delicate stitch work such as embroidery, or weaving simply on the head of the shoes. The vamp (upper part of the shoe) is mainly coloured in red and yellow, and residents[ which? ] usually use thick lines to draw the outline of the mouth, eyebrow, nose and the eyes of the tiger to express its power in an exaggerated way. [1] [2]



The origins of tiger-head shoes are unknown, but there are several folk legends about them. Tiger-head shoes are marked by the practice of exorcising evil spirits. [3] The following is one of the legends:

Long long ago, there was a lady who has clever hands and good sense. She was very gifted in embroidery, so that her child was always well dressed. One night, a monster came to the village and caught all the children there except her son. From then people began to realize that the shoes the child wearing were decorated with a tiger’s head at the front which scared the monster, thus leaving the child safe. Therefore, people began to imitate this practice. [4]

Region distribution

Tiger-head shoes are popular in North China, especially in Hebei, Henan, Shanxi, Shandong, Shanxi provinces. Different areas have formed different ways of making tiger-head shoes. In the southern part of Hebei province, the embroidery type is most well-known. [5] [6] [7] [8]


In Chinese culture, the tiger is seen as sturdy and mighty with the title of "king of the beasts". Thus, when it is mentioned, people will naturally feel a sense of power and fright. As a result, the expressions concerning tiger, such as the tiger's roar (Chinese :虎啸; pinyin :huxiao), its frightful appearance (Chinese:虎威; pinyin:huwei), and the phrase "vigorous as a tiger" (Chinese:虎虎有生气; pinyin:huhuyoushengqi) came into being, along with worship of the creature.

When a child is growing up, he would come across a series of accidents or even calamities caused by nature or society. These accidents and calamities need to be conquered, so that the child can grow up healthily. Therefore, he is expected to become burly, dignified, and vigorous like a tiger, and possess all the inner qualities of a tiger as well. One major embodiment of this hope is to embroider the patterns of a tiger's heads on shoe toes and uppers. [9]

In other words, tiger or tiger-head patterns are used to exorcise evil spirits and accelerate the "tigerous temperament" of a child.

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Handan</span> City in Hebei province, China

Handan is a prefecture-level city located in the southwest of Hebei province, China. The southernmost prefecture-level city of the province, it borders Xingtai on the north, and the provinces of Shanxi on the west, Henan on the south and Shandong on the east. At the 2010 census, its population was 9,174,683 inhabitants whom 2,845,790 lived in the built-up area made of 5 urban districts. Yongnian District in Handan and Shahe City in Xingtai have largely formed into a single conurbation.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hulin</span> County-level city in Heilongjiang, Peoples Republic of China

Hulin is a county-level city on the Muling River in southeastern Heilongjiang province, People's Republic of China. With a population of around 200,000, it is under the administration of Jixi. Nearby are Lake Xingkai, 51 kilometres (32 mi) to the southwest, the Usuri River, which forms the Russian border 38 kilometres (24 mi) to the east. The main agricultural products include soybeans, cattle, milk, various organic produces, and lumber.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">China National Highway 212</span> Road in China

China National Highway 212 (G212) runs from Lanzhou in Gansu to Chongqing. It was originally 1302 kilometres in length. In the 2013 National Highway Network Planning it was extended to Longbang, Guangxi, on the border with Vietnam. After the extension, the length is circa 2,300 km (1,400 mi).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Guo Degang</span> Chinese crosstalk comedian and actor (born 1973)

Guo Degang is a Chinese crosstalk (xiangsheng) comedian and actor. Guo's film appearances include The 601st Phone Call, Just Another Pandora's Box, and Mystery. Guo has also directed the films Our Happiness and The Faces of My Gene.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wen County, Gansu</span> County in Gansu, Peoples Republic of China

Wen County or Wenxian is a county under the administration of the prefecture-level city of Longnan, in the southeast of Gansu province, China, bordering Sichuan province to the south and west. It has a land area of 4,994 square kilometers, and a population of 241,000 (2019), notably having the largest population of Baima people.

Zhang Tianhan is a versatile Chinese football player who currently plays for China League One side Kunshan FC.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ningqiang County</span> County in Shaanxi, Peoples Republic of China

Ningqiang County is a county and both the southwesternmost and westernmost county-level division of Shaanxi province, China, bordering both Sichuan and Gansu. It is under the administration of Hanzhong City. The source of the Han River is located in the county.

Qiu County or Qiuxian is a county in the south of Hebei province, China. It is under the administration of Handan City.

Yunzhou District is a district of the city of Datong, Shanxi. It was formerly known as Datong County until 9 February 2018 in a State Council-approved reshuffle of Datong's administrative divisions.

Dagang is a town in Yandu District, Yancheng, Jiangsu Province, China. Founded during the Neolithic Age, Dagang was named after a huge sandy hill.

Wen Meihui is a Chinese translator. She is a member of the China Democratic League.

The Wuyuan River Stadium is a stadium in Haikou's west coast area, Hainan, China. It is Hainan's largest stadium.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">China Weather TV</span> Television channel

China Weather TV is a TV channel that was established by China Meteorological Administration in May 2006. The channel provides meteorological information and other related life service information. It is also the first meteorological TV channel in China. In January 2013, the channel won an award naming it "The most valuable TV media for public welfare spreading".

Cixian railway station is a station on Beijing–Guangzhou railway in Ci County, Handan, Hebei.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Handan railway station</span> Railway station in Handan, Hebei, China

Handan railway station is a station in Handan, Hebei. The station is on the Beijing–Guangzhou railway and serves as the eastern terminus of Handan–Changzhi railway and the western terminus of Handan–Jinan railway.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Zhang Wenhong</span> Chinese doctor

Zhang Wenhong is a Chinese physician, and a member of the Chinese Communist Party. He is the Director and Party Branch Secretary of the Department of Infectious Diseases at Huashan Hospital affiliated to Fudan University, the Director of the Internal Medicine Department of the Shanghai Medical College, and also the leader of the Shanghai Medical Treatment Experts Group, deputy director of the Shanghai Institute of Liver Diseases, and standing committee member of the Infectious Disease Branch of the Chinese Medical Association.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Xiuhuaxie</span> Traditional Chinese embroidered shoes with flat sole

Xiuhuaxie, also known as Chinese shoes, Chinese-style embroidered shoes, and Chinese slippers, are a well-known sub-type of traditional Chinese cloth shoes ; the xiuhuaxie are deeply rooted in Chinese culture and are characterized by its use of elaborate and colourful Chinese embroideries to create pattern on the shoes. The traditional handicraft of making xiuhuaxie is fully indigenous to China, having been created by Chinese people since the ancient times, and combines Chinese shoe culture and the art of Chinese embroidery. This craft is believed to have originated during the Spring and Autumn period about 2600 years ago in Shanxi province; the traditional craft was then handed down from generation to generation by Chinese women. Nowadays, the xiuhuaxie continue to be used as a type of footwear item in Hanfu, and are also used as traditional Chinese wedding shoes. Ethnic minorities in China also have their own styles of xiuhuaxie and their own traditional customs around these shoes.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Shanxi mature vinegar</span> Special food product of Shanxi Province, China

Shanxi mature vinegar is a type of Chinese vinegar. It is a product of Shanxi Province.


  1. "邯郸县风俗文化 | 米胖". Travel.mipang.com. Retrieved 2012-06-05.
  2. "虎头鞋官方网站-民间手工艺品(非物质文化遗产-虎头鞋) - Powered by ECShop". Hutouxie.cn. Retrieved 2012-06-05.
  3. "虎头鞋的寓意和传说 浏览文章 大鹏新闻网". Dpcm.cn. 2010-01-26. Retrieved 2012-06-05.
  4. "虎头鞋里的故事". D.g.wanfangdata.com.cn. Retrieved 2012-06-05.
  5. "虎头鞋[邯郸市丛台教育网(丛台区文教体局)]". Ctjyw.com.cn. 2011-04-20. Retrieved 2012-07-01.
  6. "大学生用虎头鞋创业 年收50多万元(图文)-虎头鞋,鞋,布鞋-制鞋行业-hc360慧聪网". Info.shoes.hc360.com. 2009-10-20. Retrieved 2012-07-01.
  7. 申罡 (2012-03-07). "武香环:"虎头鞋"绣出致富路_中国人物". News.china.com.cn. Retrieved 2012-07-01.
  8. "永年县"虎头鞋"俏销(图)-河北新闻-河北新闻网". Zhuanti.hebnews.cn. Retrieved 2012-07-01.
  9. 南京史志. 南京市地方志编纂委員会办公室. 1997.