Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/508

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492
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

was asked to bring the two toes as near together as possible, he could not make them touch; there was still a space between them, as in Fig. 2. All gradations may be observed between this maximum of separation and a foot on which no separation can be perceived in ordinary attitudes.

Among thirty-seven persons examined in Pondicherry, I only found eight in whom there was a separation. It is therefore not PSM V41 D508a-Normal Position of the Foot.jpgFig. 3.—Normal Position of the Foot. constant in the Indian race. The distance between the ends of the toes may vary in the same person by ten or even by twenty millimetres, accordingly as they are drawn together or apart by the muscles of the foot alone, and without using the hand. They may usually be made to touch when brought together. But it will be observed that they only touch at the ends. At the root the separation persists. The distance between the toes, there, may be diminished, but does not vanish, when they are brought together, and it may be increased when they are spread out.

Figs. 3, 4, and 5 illustrate these facts. They are accurate, being the traces, taken with a pencil, of the toes in different positions; and it should be kept in mind that the separation and the drawing PSM V41 D508b-The same, with the Toes brought together.jpgFig. 4.—The same, with the Toes brought together. together are due solely to the action of the muscles of the foot.

This anatomical disposition may occur in other Indians as well as in Tamils. I have found it among the Bengalis, in three of whom I have drawn it, but it is not frequent among them. With none, however, in all my investigations, have I found it as strongly accentuated as with the Trichinopolitan whom I have used as a type. It appears to be rare among the Singhalese, but their feet have the prehensile property.

An interesting point in the feature is the possibility, by means of it, of using a peculiar patten, which consists of a flat piece of wood cut in the form of the foot, with a peg between the first and second toes, by which the shoe is held on. It is used only in the low castes. Four pairs of these pattens may be seen in the collection of shoes in the Cluny Museum. In two of them the peg is