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HISTORY OF BOOTS & SHOES.
ON THE MOST ANCIENT COVERINGS FOR THE FEET.
F we investigate the monuments of the remotest nations of antiquity, we shall find that the earliest form of protection for the feet, partook of the nature of sandals. The most ancient representations we possess of scenes in ordinary life, are the sculptures and paintings of early
Egypt, and these the investigations of travelled scholars from most modern civilized countries have, by their descriptions and delineations, made familiar to us, so that the habits and manners, as well as the costume of this ancient people, have been handed down to the present time, by the work of their own hands, with so vivid a truthfulness, that we feel as
conversant with their domestic manners and customs, as with those of any modern nation to which the book of the traveller would introduce us. Not only do their pictured relics remain to give us an insight into their mode of life, but a vast quantity of articles of all kinds, from the tools of the workmen, to the elegant fabrics which once decorated the boudoir of the fair ladies of Memphis and Carnac three thousand years ago, are treasured up in the museums, both public and private, of this and other countries.
With these materials, it is in no wise difficult to carry our history of shoemaking back to the earliest times, and even to look upon the shoemaker at his work, in the arly days of Thothmes the third, who ascended the throne of Egypt, according to Wilkinson, 1495 years before Christ, and during whose reign, the Exodus of the Israelites occurred. The first of our plates contains a copy of this very curious painting, as it existed upon the walls of Thebes, when the Italian scholar Rossellini copied it for his great work on Egypt. The shoemakers are both seated upon low stools (real specimens of such articles may
be seen in the British Museum), and are both busily employed, in the formation of the sandals then usually worn in Egypt, the first workman is piercing with his awl the leather thong, at the side of the sole, through which the straps were passed, which secured the sandal to the foot; before him is a low sloping bench, one end of which rests upon the ground : his fellow-workman is equally busy, sewing a shoe, and tightening the thong with his teeth, a primitive mode of working which is occasionally indulged in at the present day. Above their heads is a goodly row of sandals, probably so placed, to attract a passing customer; the shops in the East being then, as now, entirely open and exposed to every one who passed. As the ancient Egyptian artists knew nothing of perspective, the tools of the workmen that lie around, are here represented above them : they bear in some instances a resemblance to those used in the present day; the central instru- . ment, above the man who pierces the tie of the sandal, having the precise shape of the shoemakers awl still in ase, so very unchanging are articles of utility. In the same manner, the semicircular knife used by the
ancient Egyptians between 3,000 and 4,000 years ago, is precisely similar to that of our modern curriers, and is thus represented in a painting at Thebes of that
remote antiquity. The workman, it will be noticed, cuts the leather upon a sloping bench, exactly like that of the shoemaker already engraved.
The warmth and mildness of the East, rendered a close warm shoe unnecessary; and, indeed, in the present day they partake there more of the character of slippers, and the foot thus unconfined by tight shoes, and always free in its motion, retained its full power and pliability; and the custom still retained in the East, of holding a strap of leather, or other substance between the toes, is represented in the Theban paintings ; the foot thus becoming an useful second to the hand.