image of Chronicles of Riches gallery

Chronicles of Riches:
Treasures from the Bata Shoe Museum

On display until October 27th, 2009

Chronicles of Riches signature image of Manchu footwear In museums around the world, treasured objects are collected, cared for and preserved, but the artifact storage areas are never seen by the public. This exhibition takes a new approach: by transforming the gallery into a representation of the Museum's storage vaults, Chronicles of Riches brings visitors 'behind the scenes' for a rare view of the multitude of exceptional artifacts held in the collection. From Napoleon's black silk socks worn while he lingered in exile on St. Helena to shoes of bear fur and silk worn by an ancient Japanese samurai, each of the artifacts in Chronicles of Riches has been hand-selected for the history it reveals and the tale it tells.

What you'll see

Here's just a sampling of the diversity on display in Chronicles of Riches.

image of Acholi sandal (Africa)

Acholi Sandal, Africa, c.1900
Like pieces of abstract sculpture, footwear from certain parts of Africa can be quite dramatic in design. Traditional footwear from the Acholi region of Northern Uganda is formed using an oval shaped piece of wet rawhide which is incised and pigmented red and black.
Collection of the Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto (BSM P92.96)
Image credit: (c) Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto. Photo: Matthew Plexman

image of ivory paduka (India)

Ivory paduka, India, Travancore-Cochin, 1775-1825
These rare paduka, or toe-knob sandals, embellished with inlaid ivory, were once worn by a member of the highest class. The dense, meandering floral motif and the careful piecing of the ivory veneer are characteristic of 18th century Travancore workmanship.
Collection of the Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto (BSM P03.15)
Image credit: (c) Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto. Photo: Matthew Plexman

image of Hintha bird footwear (Myanmar)

Hintha bird footwear, Burma (now Myanmar), 19th century
Golden footwear in the shape of the sacred hintha bird was part of the five royal garments worn by the Buddhist kings in what is now Myanmar. These royal shoes are believed to date to the last Burmese dynasty, the Konbang dynasty, which lasted from 1755-1885. Hintha, or hamsa, birds are important Buddhist symbols signifying purity, harmony and good character. This pair of shoes features traditional shwe-chi-doe embroidery which incorporates sequins, beads and cut glass into its lavish designs.
Collection of the Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto (BSM P85.22)
Image credit: (c) Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto. Photo: Matthew Plexman

image of Mojari (India)

Mojari of the Nizam of Hyderabad, India, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, early 1800s
This pair of mojari is said to have been worn by the Nizam of Hyderabad, Shikander Jah, in the early 19th century. They are embellished with gold metal thread called zardosi and salma sitara embroidery (gold metal embroidery incorporating a sequin, called a sitara or star). The throats are embellished with rubies, diamonds and emeralds set in enamelled gold. Hyderabad broke away from the Mughal Empire in 1724 and in the 19th century was an independent, Islamic kingdom ruled by the Nizam.
Collection of the Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto (BSM P99.3)
Image credit: (c) Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto. Photo: Matthew Plexman

image of grass sock (Aleut)

Grass sock, Aleut, 1910
Among the many objects woven by Aleut women were grass socks worn by men rare.
Collection of the Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto (BSM P79.599)
Image credit: (c) Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto. Photo: Matthew Plexman

image of Bear fur shoes (Japan)

Bear fur shoes, Japan, mid-19th century
These bear fur shoes would have been part of the armour of a member of the ruling samurai class in Edo Japan. The samurai, or warrior, class rose to power in the 12th century, and after centuries of civil war the Tokugawa shogunate established a 250-year-long period of peace known as the Edo period (1603-1867). The samurai wearing these shoes would have adhered to Bushido, or the Way of the Warrior, which demanded unwavering loyalty, self-sacrifice, martial spirit and honour. The use of bear fur in these shoes symbolized the strength of the warrior.
Collection of the Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto (BSM P84.74)
Image credit: (c) Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto. Photo: Matthew Plexman

image of red velvet shoe

Red velvet shoe, Pietro Yantorny, 1920s
At the dawn of the 20th century, master shoemaker Pietro Yantorny was crafting exceptional, exclusive shoes which took years to create and hundreds of dollars to own. In fact, his shop sign proclaimed him as the most expensive shoemaker in the world.
Collection of the Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto (BSM P06.4)
Image credit: (c) Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto. Photo: Matthew Plexman

image of high-heeled shoes, Italian

High-heeled shoes, Italian, 1700-1720
These extremely well-preserved high-heeled shoes date to the early 1700s. The heels are made of bevel-carved wood covered in deep red Moroccan leather while the uppers feature brightly coloured embroidery on luxurious silk.
Collection of the Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto (BSM P90.186)
Image credit: (c) Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto. Photo: Matthew Plexman

image of moccasin, Iowa

Moccasin, Iowa, 1850-1900
The Iowa lived in the area of the U.S. state which today bears their name. Like many eastern Prairie tribes, the Iowa favoured the moccasin. This pair shows the beauty of later Iowa beadwork; the green beaded circles symbolize eyes.
Collection of the Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto (BSM P82.133)
Image credit: (c) Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto. Photo: Matthew Plexman

image of chopine (Italy)

Chopine, Italy, 1580-1620
Today, only a small number of museums have examples of chopines. The debut of chopines occured during the Renaissance but they were still the footwear of choice for many wealthy women at the beginning of the 17th century. Highly impractical, the chopine's primary purpose was to make the wearer stand out and therefore it was perfectly suited for extravagant and expensive embellishment. This treasured pair features silk velvet covered wooden platforms ornamented with silver lace, silver tacks and an upper of ruched silk edged with silver lace and finished with a silk tassel. Chopines are rarely visible in paintings of the period since women wore long dresses that covered their footwear.
Collection of the Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto (BSM P91.80)
Image credit: (c) Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto. Photo: Matthew Plexman

Images on this site are at web resolution. High-quality versions of selected images are available for media for pieces which review and/or promote the Museum. To request images for these purposes, please contact Rosmarie Gadzovski, Marketing and Public Relations Manager, telephone 416.979.7799 x225. For information about image permissions and licensing, please visit our IMAGE PERMISSIONS section.


Exhibition Poster

image of Chronicles of Riches poster

The exhibition poster is available through the MUSEUM SHOP.


Exhibition Sponsors


Media Information

Further information about this exhibition is available in the MEDIA ROOM.

Would you like to hear about new exhibitions and events?
Subscribe to our free ENEWSLETTER to receive monthly email updates on Museum activities.