If we except the unnatural custom of maiming the feet, which swells and distorts the ankles, and wrapping the latter up in bandages, the dress of Chinese ladies in the upper ranks of life is by no means unbecoming. In the head dress, in particular, they sometimes exhibit great taste, and great variety; and the materials of which their garments are made, and especially those parts of them which consist of their own embroidering, are exceedingly beautiful. Confined by education in their mental acquirements, a great part of their time is employed in works of this kind, in looking after and cultivating plants growing in pots which decorate their apartments and inner courtyards, and in attending to birds, which are either kept for singing, or some particular beauty of form or plumage. The buildings in the back ground form part of a view of Pekin, near one of the western gates.
The Project Gutenberg EBook of Picturesque Representations of the Dress and Manners of the Chinese, by William Alexander Published 1814