Tiger shoes are commonly found on babies" feet in the countryside of China even today. The shoes are entirely made of cloth and their toe-caps are made into tiger"s head. There is a popular story behind their long history.
Long ago, in the famous old town Yangzhou lived a boatman called Big Yang, who was very generous and ready to help others. Because of his charities, he got an old drawing as a present from an old female passenger. In the picture, a beautiful girl was embroidering a pair of tiger shoes. The boatman was very pleased with the gift. He liked the picture dearly. As soon as he got home, he put it on the wall above his bed.
One evening, the girl in the picture stepped out of the picture and had a nice time with Big Yang. Since then, they met every night. Years later, they had a son who brought much happiness to the couple. But unfortunately, the magic picture was seized away by the official of the town, who had heard about the beauty in Big Yang"s picture. Big Yang was angry with the evil official though he could do nothing. The greedy official put the picture on the wall above his bed and waited the girl to come down every night. To his disappointment, nothing happened.
The son was crying for his mother. The father tried to deceive him into believing that his mother had gone far away to the west. The son insisted on looking for his mother. Finally, the son went on the trip to find his mother. He traveled westwards day and night, and in the end, he saw his mother in a pool in the forest bathing together with many other fairies. "Well, my son, how have you been looking for Mum a long way here!" said the mother, weeping the tears off her son"s cheeks. "Mum, let"s go home. You know how I missed you." "We won"t meet until you go into the official"s bed room, wearing that pair of tiger shoes I made for you. My son. Shut your eyes, and I"ll send you home first."
After a whirl of gale, the son was surprised to find himself already at home. He informed the official that he could call down the lady from the picture. On hearing the news, the evil official was very pleased for he was eager to find a way to get in touch with the beauty. So the boy was lead directly into the bedroom. As soon as the boy saw his mother, he spoke to the picture. "Mum, let"s go!" the son said deeply. The mother got down right away and walked out with the support of her son. But the evil official stopped them right away. He wanted to detain the beauty as his concubine forcefully, but he was refused. The official became angry and thrust at the mother and son. The boy fought back bravely. While they were fighting, the tiger shoes shook off from the boy"s feet and turned into a large tiger. It jumped up quickly over to the sinful official. The calls for help from the poor man and the roars from the fierce tiger were mixed together, which was heard by the whole town. It was the tiger shoes that saved the mother and son, and the family united again. Since then, people made tiger shoes for their own babies hoping the family and their babies well protected.