China’s Southwest, lacking locally grown cotton, had imported raw cotton, cotton yarn, and cotton cloth. Among our five village sites in mountainous Yunnan and Guizhou, differences in the distance from industrial centers and the railway allowed some villages to specialize in hand woven textiles and other commercial crafts while other villages relied less on women’s handcraft labor. With milder winters, the work of cultivating double-cropped rice and opium left less time for handwork, and generated income used to buy textiles. The variations in Han women’s work and footbinding provide fertile ground for testing the relationship between girls’ labor and footbinding. The examination of Southwest China concludes with comparison to Gates’ earlier survey data on footbinding among nearly 5,000 Sichuan women.
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