History of High Heels

Item: A man's high heels
Era: Safavid Period
Date: 17th Century
Kept: Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto, Canada
Sources: [1], [2], [3]
کفش پاشنه بلند مردانه - دوره صفوی - موزه کفش باتا - تورنتو کانادا
High heels are typical footwear related to female fashionistas these days. Apparently high heels originated in Middle East (Persia) and were used by both men and women. The item above belongs to Safavid Period and is covered in shagreen - horse-hide with pressed mustard seeds. Elizabeth Semmehack, curator at the Bata Shoe Museum, traces the high heel to horse riders in the Near East (Persia) who used high heels for functionality, because they helped hold the rider's foot in stirrups. She states that this footwear is depicted on a 9th-century ceramic bowl from Persia. Good horsemanship was essential to the fighting styles of the Persia . When the soldier stood up in his stirrups, the heel helped him to secure his stance so that he could shoot his bow and arrow more effectively.

At the end of the 16th Century, Persia's Shah Abbas I had the largest cavalry in the world. He was keen to forge links with rulers in Western Europe to help him defeat his great enemy, the Ottoman Empire. So in 1599, Abbas sent the first Persian diplomatic mission to Europe [4] - it called on the courts of Russia, Germany and Spain.  A wave of interest in all things Persian passed through Western Europe. Persian style shoes were enthusiastically adopted by aristocrats, who sought to give their appearance a virile, masculine edge that, it suddenly seemed, only heeled shoes could supply. - BBC