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young fishing girl

Young Fishing Girl

• Preparing girls for marriage
In many ancient societies, girls' upbringing had much to do with preparing them to be future wives. In many cultures, it was not the norm for women to be economically independent. Thus, where a girl's future well-being depended upon marrying her to a man who was economically self-sufficient, it was crucial to prepare her to meet whatever qualities or skills were popularly expected of wives.
In cultures ranging from Ancient Greece to the 19th century United States, girls have been taught such essential domestic skills as sewing, cooking, gardening, and basic hygiene and medical care such as preparing balms and salves, and in some cases midwife skills. These skills would be taught from generation to generation, with the knowledge passed down orally from mother to daughter. A well-known reference to these important women's skills is in the folk tale Rumpelstiltskin, which dates back to Medieval Germany and was collected in written form by the folklorists the Brothers Grimm. The miller's daughter is valued as a potential wife because of her reputation for being able to spin straw into gold.
In some parts of China, beginning in the Southern Tang kingdom in Nanjing (937-975), the custom of foot binding was associated with upper class women who were worthy of a life of leisure, and husbands who could afford to spare them the necessity of work (which would require the ability to be mobile and spend the day on their feet). Because of this belief, parents hoping to ensure a good marriage for their daughters would begin binding their feet from about the age of seven years old to achieve the ideal appearance. The tinier the feet, the better the social rank of a future husband. This practice did not end until the early years of the 20th century.

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