Chinese foot binding was the barbaric practice in which the feet of young girls were bound to prevent them growing as a smaller foot was considered more desirable, resulting in lifelong pain and disability. Scholars are not totally clear when the practice of Chinese foot binding started. It is generally considered that it begun to spread during the Song dynasty that lasted from 960 to 1279, but probably started just before then with Emperor Li Yu.
Li Yu had his concubine, Yao Niang bind her feet in white silk to make the shape of the crescent moon and perform a dance. Her dance was said to be so graceful that others tried to imitate her with the the binding of feet spreading to other upper class women. The practice then spread to other areas and social classes.