I hope you like history because Day 61 is the day we re-discover The Indian History of Shoe Throwing. Politics and shoe-throwing are closely intertwined in India and according to the official version, it began as early as 1907 at Calcutta when a "Mahratta shoe" broke a Congress apart. This is an excerpt of the account from Henry Nevinson:
“Uproar drowned the rest. With folded arms Mr. Tilak faced the audience. On either side of him young Moderates sprang to their feet, wildly gesticulating vengeance. Shaking their fists and yelling to the air, they clamoured to hurl him down the steep of the platform. ...But Mr. Tilak asked for no protection. He stood there with folded arms , defiant , calling on violence to do its worst, calling on violence to move him, for he would move for nothing else in hell or heaven. In front, the white- clad audience roared like a tumultuous sea...
Suddenly something flew through the air — a shoe! — a Mahratta shoe! — reddish leather, pointed toe, sole studded with lead. It struck Surendra Nath Banerjea on the cheek; it cannonned off upon Sir Pherozeshah Mahta. It flew, it fell, and, as at a given signal, white waves of turbaned men surged up the escarpment of the platform. Leaping, climbing, hissing the breath of fury, brandishing long sticks, they came, striking at any head that looked to them Moderate, and in another moment, between brown legs standing upon the green-baize table, I caught glimpses of the Indian National Congress dissolving in chaos.”
(Note: Artwork in article is by Ben Heine)
Now you must understand that these Mahratta's shoes are really "powerful missiles". You see in India, people wear sandals made of straw, grass, rope and wood.From early times, they traded with Egypt and Near East affecting and transferring shoes style along the trade routes. Generally, they like a sandal which was held by a large knob between the big toe and the 2nd toe., kind of like the Dior pair in the picture above, kind of...Anyhow, as cows are sacred to the Hindus, there are few leather shoes in India. Instead they wear mules, boots and sandals made from felt and velvet, often with exquisite embroideries.For ease of riding, these shoes are curved and pointed with iron heels to grip the stirrups. Thanks to the nature of these shoes, they are painful if struck and aerodynamically fast. Picture on left is an artist impression (1.5") Click on it if you want to buy these shoes.
Shoe throwing has become such a manic craze especially during election time in India that a rule has been passed for people to be barefoot before they can enter certain premises. You can check your skills at shoe throwing at Sock and Awe. Let me know your score. My highest was 5, I think.
You may also wish to know the following facts about shoes in Asia:
Shoes and shoe throwing are serious insults in much of Asia.
In India, pointing the soles of your shoes at people, particularly a member of the elite, has special resonance in this complex, varied society.
Historically, lower castes have been associated with the feet, sociologists said, while upper castes have embodied the head or top ranks of the social order.
"In Hollywood films, you sometimes see a woman put her feet on the hero's lap, on the sofa," said Nandy, the political psychologist. "That would be unimaginable here."
The palace of course has the more believable legendary version of how shoe throwing became the rage in India. But that is a story for another day. In the meantime, let me introduce you to the Royal Shoe-Supplier of My Maharajah's Palace, MERCEDES:
The title behind her name is too long to produce for she is the also the Royal Perfumer, Gardener, Enamel Warer, Chair maker, brolly manufacturer... For all enquiries relating to her products, please check out her store at Liberty Biberty . By the way you cannot read the print in the shoes but they say "Dior by Mercedes"
Tune in for more on The History of Shoe Throwing in India.