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BS: The insult of the sole of the foot Q

Susan from California 18 Apr 03 - 11:49 PM
Troll 19 Apr 03 - 12:04 AM
katlaughing 19 Apr 03 - 12:26 AM
greg stephens 19 Apr 03 - 03:11 AM
gnu 19 Apr 03 - 05:47 AM
gnu 19 Apr 03 - 06:01 AM
McGrath of Harlow 19 Apr 03 - 06:32 AM
catspaw49 19 Apr 03 - 07:47 AM
greg stephens 19 Apr 03 - 07:58 AM
*daylia* 19 Apr 03 - 09:32 AM
mack/misophist 19 Apr 03 - 10:09 AM
gnu 19 Apr 03 - 10:13 AM
McGrath of Harlow 19 Apr 03 - 11:44 AM

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Subject: BS: The insult of the sole of the foot Q
From: Susan from California
Date: 18 Apr 03 - 11:49 PM

I learned last week that showing the bottom of your foot in at least parts of the Arab world is an insult, as is hitting a statue with your shoe, or walking on a picture of someone. Does anyone know why? How far back does this custom go? I'm wondering for a few reasons, but it came up at church last night when we were discussing the ancient tradition of foot washing. I just wondered if there was a connection somewhere. Does anybody have any insight?


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Subject: RE: BS: The insult of the sole of the foot Q
From: Troll
Date: 19 Apr 03 - 12:04 AM

The sole of the foot is unclean, both actually and ritually, since the foot walks through all manner of filth and ordure. Therefore, to show the sole of the foot or to stamp on someone or hit them with a shoe is a dreadful insult. It says that the other person is like the filth through which the foot travels daily.
The left hand is also ritually unclean, since it is the hand used to cleanse oneself after bodily eliminations. You should never pick up food with the left hand, for example.
Sorry that I can't refer you to some primer on Arab manners or go into deeper detail, but this is about all I know on the subject at this point.

troll


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Subject: RE: BS: The insult of the sole of the foot Q
From: katlaughing
Date: 19 Apr 03 - 12:26 AM

There is a lot of really good information at Middle East Customs and Gestures, esp. about halfway or two-thirds down the page. It says the same thing about the feet; they are considered the filthiest part of the body and it is insulting to reveal the soles and/or to point feet towards someone.

kat


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Subject: RE: BS: The insult of the sole of the foot Q
From: greg stephens
Date: 19 Apr 03 - 03:11 AM

In Ernest Bramah's "Kai Lung" books people who wish to be insulting are always saying"I stretch out my feet towards you", so I suppose the Chinese have the same belief(assuming Bramah had his facts right).


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Subject: RE: BS: The insult of the sole of the foot Q
From: gnu
Date: 19 Apr 03 - 05:47 AM

"...and/or to point feet towards someone." They must not like the ballet. Pieurr... Pireuette... that thing where the spin must just piss everyone off.


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Subject: RE: BS: The insult of the sole of the foot Q
From: gnu
Date: 19 Apr 03 - 06:01 AM

"...and/or to point feet towards someone." They must not like the ballet. Pieurr... Pireuette... that thing where THEY spin must just piss everyone off. (Tea, gotta have my tea.)


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Subject: RE: BS: The insult of the sole of the foot Q
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 19 Apr 03 - 06:32 AM

An equivalent of mooning, really, with the same kind of imnplication. But a bit more decorous.


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Subject: RE: BS: The insult of the sole of the foot Q
From: catspaw49
Date: 19 Apr 03 - 07:47 AM

Seems like a kind of ungainly sort of motion, not real easy to use. I mean like if you're driving and some asshole cuts you off, by the time you get your foot out the window the guy is a mile ahead of you. Somebody ought to teach them how to "shoot the bird" (giving the finger) instead. Then if the asshole flips you off back you can also quickly grab your pistol and unload a few rounds at him.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: BS: The insult of the sole of the foot Q
From: greg stephens
Date: 19 Apr 03 - 07:58 AM

That's only a problem if you're driving on your own Spaw. get an open top car and always have a couple of drunken teenagers in the back, one with feet ready up on the side, and the other ready to moon.


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Subject: RE: BS: The insult of the sole of the foot Q
From: *daylia*
Date: 19 Apr 03 - 09:32 AM

The custom against the public "airing" of the human foot seems to apply to European countries as well. I was travelling from Geneva to Milan by train several years ago. I was very tired, and the coach was empty except for my Italian travelling companion, so I took my shoes off and put my feet up on the seat opposite me hoping to catch a few z's.

After a while I noticed that everyone passing by the door of the coach was giving me dirty looks. Finally I asked my friend if I was doing something "wrong" - was I not "allowed" to nap on the train? She said "Oh, you should know better than to take your shoes off. That's VERY bad manners!"

Surprised, and not a little annoyed (being tired and grumpy), I decided to ignore them - couldn't bear the thought of putting those tight shoes back on my aching feet. Besides, my socks were clean and my feet don't stink! I remember dozing off, silently telling those passers-by with the insulting glances "You think that's bad - wait'll I take my socks off for ya too! Then you'll really see my toes wiggle!"

The next night I got another surprising lesson in European etiquette. We were at a stoplight in downtown Milan - after the most incredible Spanish guitar concert I've ever been to in my life (!!!) - when the local prostitutes approached to ply their trade. These women were topless - *gasp* - and a couple of them actually leaned over the hood of the car to press their mammaries (enticingly I guess) against the windshield. My mouth fell open in astonishment, and I finally asked "Is that LEGAL over here?" My friend grinned and said "Well, not really, but the police don't do anything about it."

So toes are taboo but breasts are okay then? Go figure!!

I was also constantly being reminded to keep BOTH hands on the table when eating. No putting one hand on your lap! When I finally asked why, I was told it was to reassure your host and your fellow diners that you were not hiding a weapon under the table to attack them with. I guess in the old days of the knights in armour, that was a real concern. Such friendly, peaceful loving traditions - NOT!!

daylia


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Subject: RE: BS: The insult of the sole of the foot Q
From: mack/misophist
Date: 19 Apr 03 - 10:09 AM

As it was explained to me, both the East and the Middle East have religions where ritual cleanliness is of predominant importance. So uncleanness is also.


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Subject: RE: BS: The insult of the sole of the foot Q
From: gnu
Date: 19 Apr 03 - 10:13 AM

Against the windshield ! Certainly sounds more friendly than "shoe shoving". And the police seem friendlier also. I suppose there was no mistaking the intent of the gesture... in any culture.


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Subject: RE: BS: The insult of the sole of the foot Q
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 19 Apr 03 - 11:44 AM

Taking your shoes off and putting your feet up on the seat opposite would probably be seen as a bit off in England too. Also you might get your feet dirty.


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