Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/509

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493
THE PREHENSILE FOOT OF EAST INDIANS.

tipped with an ivory button, one having four lobes and the other six, which give them a resemblance to a lotus flower. These lobes open under the pressure of the foot, and thus form a kind of fastening. Pattens of this kind are used only in the Indies. A European would find it very hard to wear them.[1]

The separation of the great toe at the base is not special to the East Indians. M. Manouvrier has reproduced it on two drawings of the feet of Caribs on exhibition in the Jardin'd'acclimatation; but this author has not observed that the foot has any special part with this people as an organ of prehension. Among the numerous casts of feet in the museum of the Société d'Anthropologie are some very interesting impressions of the feet of Annamites, presented by M. Mondière. The separation on the foot of one of these Annamites, named Van, is very marked. It measures twelve PSM V41 D509-The same, with the Toes spread out.jpgFig. 5.—The same, with the Toes spread out. millimetres at the base of the first and second toes, and forty-one millimetres, taking the middles of the nails as points of measurement, at the tips (Fig. 6). On the impression of the foot of another Annamite, named Thi-Finhi, the separation is less notable, but is still four millimetres at the base and forty-one millimetres at the ends; while a third impression, still by M. Mondière, shows a still different degree of separation. This separation has been noticed frequently among the Annamites, as well as the prehensile faculty of the foot. They therefore enjoy that property in common with the Indians.

It does not follow, however, that this faculty is common to all peoples that go barefooted, or even to all savages. There are at the museum castings of three feet of negroes in which nothing like it appears; an American Indian foot from the lower Amazon, the gift of Dr. Crevaux, also normal; two feet of young Bushmen, normal likewise; and thirteen feet of Fuegian men and women, normal. Only in the cast of the right foot of one young


  1. The pattens worn in China, Japan, and Burmah somewhat resemble these. They, too, can be seen in the Cluny Museum. Three of the specimens there were held to the foot by strings, one part of which was fixed to the shoe between the first and second toes, while the other part, passing over the back of the foot, ended in the side of the shoe. These sandals resemble those of the ancient Greeks and Romans, as we see them in works of art. The separation of the great toe from the others in Japanese stockings is explained by this construction. It is to enable the pattens to be put on. But the abduction force of the great toe is not utilized in these as it is in the Indian pattens. The shoe is held by strings to the sole of the foot.