This style of shoe is called a Paduka. It is made from wood and ivory and dates to the mid nineteenth century. Padukas are India’s oldest footwear. Their open design is suited to the climate, and they keep the sole raised above the sun-baked ground.
Within the Hindu religion, cows are considered holy animals and therefore footwear made of cow leather was not desirable. Footwear worn by holy people or in holy spaces was made out of wood, ivory, metal and sometimes camel leather. Holy men tended to wear very simple wooden padukas, whilst those worn by well-off worshippers tended to be more elaborate. Padukas can be easily removed before entering a sacred space like a temple.
The Hindu deities Krishna and Rama are often depicted wearing Padukas
Among some Chinese people, particularly in Southern China, it is believed that children wearing shoes with faces on them hold evil spirits at bay. These faces fool the spirits into thinking that the child is a powerful tiger and so cannot be harmed. The faces not only repel evil spirits, but also provide the wearer with greater strength and protection. These tiger shoes date to 1900.
The Chinese New Year is the longest and most important celebration in the Chinese calendar. In 2017 the Chinese year starts on 28 January and it is the year of the Rooster
The style of having white shoes with starkly contrasting black or brown leather first became popular in the 1860s as sportswear, especially for cricket and boating, but these bore little resemblance to the style that became popular from the 1920s onwards and are known as co-respondents.
There are several suggestions as to how this style came to be called the Co-respondent. Divorce was something of a rarity in the 1920s and it was suggested that only a man of such dubious manner, taste and character as to appear in court as the co-respondent in a divorce case would wear such flashy footwear!
These men’s black leather Oxford shoes seem quite ordinary, but if they could speak they could tell many stories.
The shoes were initially purchased by Wilfrid Wright, the father of David Wright who donated the shoes to our collection. On leaving the army after World War One, Wilfrid Wright studied as a chartered accountant and qualified in 1923, at which time he probably purchased the shoes to wear with his morning suit and dinner jacket at formal functions. He wore them at the Palace of Westminster in 1925 when he was invited to accompany a member of his former regiment who won a Victoria Cross. He also wore them on his wedding day on 21 June 1928 when he married Miss Gladys Still in London
Mr Wright’s son often borrowed his father’s shoes in his teens to wear at formal dinners. He finally inherited them on his father’s death in 1958. Due to the donor’s career they have been worn at Buckingham Palace, the Palace of Westminster, Mansion House, Guildhall and 33 of the 39 Livery Halls in London. They have been worn in South Africa and Scotland. They have also been worn at St Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey and Cathedral and at many family and friend’s weddings, funerals and christenings. David Wright also wore them at his wedding in 1971.
David Wright gave up wearing the shoes a couple of years ago as they are rather too narrow now to be worn comfortably, but just imagine how many miles they have travelled in 85 years of working life. If only shoes were made for talking as well as walking!
Batman the TV series burst onto American TV screens in 1966. It starred Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as his ever-faithful sidekick, Robin the Wonder Boy. They were an instant hit, defeating such arch villains as the Joker, the Riddler and the Penguin. Their mission was to clean up the streets of Gotham City.
These sneakers were produced at about the time the TV series became popular. Made by Randy, one of the largest sneaker companies in the US, these sneakers not only came with a mask that could be cut out from the side of the box but also with a Batman ring, ensuring that anyone who wore them upheld the Batman code to ‘be honest, play fair and obey the law’.
If you have a close look at Batman on the box he is, of course, wearing his own shoes!
These sneakers were purchased through the Collecting Cultures purchase fund – a Heritage Lottery Fund initiative to improve the sneaker collection at Northampton Museum and Art Gallery.
Shoes can be made out of many different materials including wood, rubber, textiles, straw, plastic, metal or even paper. All you need are soles which are strong enough to protect your feet and uppers to keep the shoes on your feet.
Leather is probably the most popular material and many different skins can be used from crocodile to goat, from ostrich to sharkskin.
These shoes are made from elephant leather. Elephant hide is very, very thick, often 10 – 12 cms, and to make the leather more flexible and easier to work with the leather has been split. With very thick hides, the middle split can be separated into multiple layers until the thickness prevents further splitting. Apparently only the large ears of an elephant are suitable to make useable leather from.
Elephant Leather Shoes
These shoes were made for the donor in the 1970s, but have never been worn.