Shoes collected by Hans Sloane

Collected from various countries in the 18th century

Sir Hans Sloane (1660-1753), whose collection helped to found the British Museum, acquired objects that demonstrated all aspects of the world. In collecting items relating to different peoples, however, he did not collect many costumes, probably because they were large and difficult to transport. But he did collect footwear, and his catalogue lists pairs from India, China, Japan, Turkey and elsewhere. Sloane probably collected shoes because they were small and because their varying forms illustrated very clearly the differences between cultures.

Sloane's collection included painted wooden shoes from the Coromandel Coast of India, leather ones from Morocco, silk slippers from Japan and an espadrille from the Pyranées. Sloane either collected these himself or through his connections. For instance, Sloane's contacts with employees of British trading companies on the Coromandel coast of India would have been the source of the shoe illustrated on the left of the picture. This wooden shoe is one of a pair, annotated in Sloane's catalogue as ‘A shoe from Coromandel'. This type of footwear, with a single knob to slip between the toes, is very old and exists in India in many different forms and materials, both for everyday use and as ritual objects or luxury items. Some were finely executed, like this lacquered example with painted floral motifs.

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More information


K. Sloan (ed.), Enlightenment. Discovering the (London, The British Museum Press, 2003)

J. Jain-Neubauer, Feet and footwear in Indian cu (Toronto, Bata Shoe Museum in association with Mapin Publishing Pvt. Ltd., Ahmedabad, 2000)

A. MacGregor (ed.), Sir Hans Sloane, collector, sc (London, The British Museum Press, 1994)


Museum number

AOA Sloane 5 (Indian);AOA Sloane 1418 (Iberian);AOA Sloane 1074 (Japanese);AOA Sloane 59 (Morocco);AOA



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