My feet to the ground.
Sand against my heel,
Grass between my toes.
Barefoot I am closer to
The Beginning of Everything.
In many cultures it is considered inappropriate, even rude, to wear shoes indoors. It may be acceptable to wear shoes in public places ( e.g. museums or libraries ), but people are usually expected to go barefoot, or wear socks, inside dwellings. This is usually true for countries where inclement weather is frequent, such as Japan, China, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Vietnam, or Canada, and serves the purpose of minimizing the amount of dirt and mud brought in from the outside.
"Am I really barefoot every time you talk to me?" Mortensen says, laughing. "I don't really think about it, but I try to be comfortable and not make things too complicated. I like to be respectful and dress appropriately, but if that can coincide with what's comfortable then that's what I'll try to do."
Symbol of Innocence
This largely American literary tradition dates from the 18th and 19th centuries, when going barefoot was a standard part of childhood play, especially in rural areas. It features prominently in the novels of Mark Twain and the poetry of John Greenleaf Whittier. Barefoot children and young women are also common in the paintings and sketches of Norman Rockwell, William-Adolphe Bouguereau, and the artists affiliated with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.
Symbol of Peace
Woman at Work
Many religious traditions consider removing shoes as a pious gesture of respect, especially appropriate when approaching holy places.
- In Exodus, Moses had to take off his shoes before approaching the burning bush.
- Muslims are usually unshod for prayer (commonly on a prayer mat) or to attend services in a mosque, though socks are permissible.
- Some Christian churches practice barefoot pilgrimage traditions – an example being the ascent of Croagh Patrick in Ireland.
- In the Hindu religion, shoes are removed before entering temples.
- Among many neopagan reconstructionists, bare feet are considered an ideal way to remain in touch with the elements.
Going barefoot is also a common form of mortification, often combined with others such as pilgrimage, either as penance or ascetism. Roman Catholic religious orders that permanently restrict the ability of members to wear footwear are known as "discalced", though in reference to certain religious orders the term means wearing only sandals on the feet. Barefoot orders include the Camaldolese and the Teresian.
"The Barefoot Path in the Western Contemplative Tradition" by Ken Rice (link below) provides a good overview of the subject.
The Burmese seem to live their religion rather than just practice it. Buddhism is pervasive, and can seem to outsiders as very casual. This fellow incongruously relaxes on the floor with a book in one of Shwedagon’s many temples. In photographing the man, I stress his bare feet. All who enter Burma’s Buddhist temples must remove both shoes and socks, an act of humility. He bares his soles to us. He lies upon a hard floor. He is a humble man. Yet he also turns away from Buddha to read his book. This is an incongruity, and it helps this photograph tell its story.
nelipot: one who is walking barefoot