Sandal Making

Sandal Making

Da caoxie (打草鞋) is a type of sandal-making designed for walking on rough terrain. Its manufacturing process is simple requiring hemp ropes and a bundle of straw. The hemp rope is used as the warp and the straw as the weft, and after rubbing, twisting and compressing, a pair of grass sandals (caoxie) are ready for use. A skilled sandal maker can produce a pair of grass sandals in about an hour.

Fig. 1 A pair of grass shoes

Before making grass sandals, the straw needs to be soaked in water to be softened and flattened by pounding. The pounded straw is stronger and more durable, less likely to break during weaving.

To make grass sandals for oneself, one can use one’s feet to stretch out the hemp rope and begin weaving. See Figures 2-7.

Source: Pan Wenlong (潘文龍) and Gong Wei (龔為), Old Trades of Jiangsu: A Glimpse《江蘇老行當百業寫真》, Phoenix Education Publishing Company, 2018. Permission to use the photos has been obtained.