Paduka Shoes – object research

The object i have chosen is from Cuming Footwear collection, a Bath-Clog from Tanzania made out of wood. It is a curved wood sandal or bath-clog similar to indian Padukas, worn by Hindus and Jains.

C13133 C13134_1


A compound word made up of two words, “pada” and “ka“.

Pada means foot, while ka is an ending with meaning of small.

Sndal structure

Padukas is a raised sole sandal with a post and knob, which is engaged between the big and the second toes. The upper part of the shoe is uncovered and make it suitable for warm climates. The reason of being raised above the ground is to avoid damaging insects and vegetation.

Padukas are generally made out of wood, since cow is a holy aminal in Hindu Religion and the use ofcow leather is forbidden. They are also made out of metal and ivory from dead elephants or extracted from live donestic ones. Moreover, the material Padukas are made out of appeared to determine people of high status in society.The last used to wear sandals made with fine teak, ebony and sandalwood, inlaid with ivory or wire.


The word pada (foot) is representing the universe. The Prithvi (earth), Vayu (air), Akash (sky) and the element of the realm beyond the sky.

Padukas have the shape of footprints, whilst the design is specific to ensure the practice of non-violence. An often heard Brahmin prayer sais:

“Forgive me Mother Earth, the sin of injury,the violence i do, by placing my feet upon you this morning.”

The Hindu deities, Krishna and Rama are usually depicted wearing Padukas. They appear to be sacred shoes and can be worn in Temples. They could also worn in important spaces of the house but they are not allowed to be worn in toilets as the last consider unclean.


Padukas and Indian culture

In indian culture the feet are important part of the human body. Usually, the feet of elder, religious teachersand deities are worshipped. As far as the women feet is concerned, they use to adorn themto become symbols of erotisism.

Padukas symbolize holiness of holy men and gurus, while they have been part of indian culture since 17th century C.E. They are symbols of religious devotion and worn in religious ceremonies. Moreover, is the most simple and appropriate footwear for holy men who live with the fewest necessities.

In 18th century a significant and less common pair of Padukas discovered. It was made of wood with a footbed made out of sharp iron spikes. The people who used to wear this kind of shoe suffered pain and it was a way to reinforce their religious faith. Spiked Padukas were also used for masochism. The feeling of pain drove the wearer in sexual arousal. These special sandals worn by Indian Hindu Sadhus or holy men for this purpose.

Other forms of Padukas worn on special occasions

Padukas for celebratory or ritual ocassions were crafted in the shape of fish, hourglass or feet with carved toes.

  • Silver Padukas (sometimes adorned with bells to sound upon walking)



  • Bronze Padukas

paduka 7

  • Brass Padukas


  • Padukas made in the shape of a fish, symbol of fertility



  • Hourglass Padukas



  • Feet carved Padukas

Toe Peg Sandal_1


Research drawings

photo 1

photo 2




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