Fashion
From the Archive: The Kurdaitcha's Shoes
2 July, 2015
  • australia
  • ethnic
  • shoes
  • SONS
  • fashion
  • australia
  • ethnic
  • shoes
  • SONS
  • fashion

Europeana Fashion Archive is full of object with a story. Explore the one behind these amazing shoes from Australia belonging to the Shoes Or No Shoes Museum collection!

Commonly – and improperly – named Kurdaitcha, the actual name of this particular pair of shoes is Interlinia in North Australia or Intathurta in South Australia. They belong to a ritual which was in use in Australian Aboriginal culture and they were worn by a ritual executioner called Kurdaitcha.

Kurdaitcha shoes, Australia, middle 20th century. Collection SONS. All rights reserved.

Made of woven emu feathers, stitched with human or camel hair and blood, these oval shaped shoes have an opening in the center that allows the foot to enter. In order to be worn, the Kurdaitcha should undergo a particular ritual which consisted in dislocating the ball of his small toe of either foot with the application of a heated stone. Full of a spiritual and ritual meaning, when not in use, the shoes should be wrapped in kangaroo skin or hidden in sacred place.

The figure of Kurdaitcha belongs to the tradition of the Aboriginal beliefs, for which death is usually brought by the magic influence or a curse of some individual. When the alleged murder was discovered, a council of old men belonging to the group to which the dead man was part might have been organized and, if it decided that the avenge should take place, a Kurdaitcha, the avenger, was chosen among the group.

Aranda tribe Kurdaitcha shoes, Australia middle 20th century. Collection SONS. All rights reserved.

The ways this could be performed were different, but the most peculiar one was that of the bone pointing. A bone, charged of spiritual and magical energy, was pointed to the designated victim, who eventually died after few time. His death, induced by the belief of the curse, was inevitable, and that way the avenge was accomplished.

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