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Pictures | Tue Aug 7, 2018 | 7:40pm EDT

Made in China since the Qing dynasty

In an ornately decorated building in central Beijing, cobbler Cai Wenke painstakingly makes shoes by hand in a process that has hardly changed since the business first started in 1853.

REUTERS/Thomas Peter

In an ornately decorated building in central Beijing, cobbler Cai Wenke painstakingly makes shoes by hand in a process that has hardly changed since the business first started in 1853. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

In an ornately decorated building in central Beijing, cobbler Cai Wenke painstakingly makes shoes by hand in a process that has hardly changed since the business first started in 1853. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
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Neiliansheng has made shoes with traditional 'thousand-layer' soles and hand-stitched fabric uppers since the Qing dynasty, which ruled China until 1912. Among its satisfied customers, it counts politicians and celebrities, from Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping to Jackie Chan.

REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Neiliansheng has made shoes with traditional 'thousand-layer' soles and hand-stitched fabric uppers since the Qing dynasty, which ruled China until 1912. Among its satisfied customers, it counts politicians and celebrities, from Mao Zedong and Deng...more

Neiliansheng has made shoes with traditional 'thousand-layer' soles and hand-stitched fabric uppers since the Qing dynasty, which ruled China until 1912. Among its satisfied customers, it counts politicians and celebrities, from Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping to Jackie Chan. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
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The shoes, first designed for court nobility commonly carried around in sedan chairs, are made with more than 40 types of tools, in a specific sequence of more than 90 steps. Each pair usually takes about four to five days to finish.

REUTERS/Thomas Peter

The shoes, first designed for court nobility commonly carried around in sedan chairs, are made with more than 40 types of tools, in a specific sequence of more than 90 steps. Each pair usually takes about four to five days to finish. REUTERS/Thomas...more

The shoes, first designed for court nobility commonly carried around in sedan chairs, are made with more than 40 types of tools, in a specific sequence of more than 90 steps. Each pair usually takes about four to five days to finish. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
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Cai, 39, learned the trade almost a decade ago, and skilfully demonstrated the craft, nailing the white cotton fabric to the sole, which is formed from 35 layers of cotton interwoven with hemp thread in a criss-cross fashion.

REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Cai, 39, learned the trade almost a decade ago, and skilfully demonstrated the craft, nailing the white cotton fabric to the sole, which is formed from 35 layers of cotton interwoven with hemp thread in a criss-cross fashion. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Cai, 39, learned the trade almost a decade ago, and skilfully demonstrated the craft, nailing the white cotton fabric to the sole, which is formed from 35 layers of cotton interwoven with hemp thread in a criss-cross fashion. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
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After the shoes are made, colorful or patterned cloth is sewn on. A pair of these classic shoes costs about 500 yuan ($73).

REUTERS/Thomas Peter

After the shoes are made, colorful or patterned cloth is sewn on. A pair of these classic shoes costs about 500 yuan ($73). REUTERS/Thomas Peter

After the shoes are made, colorful or patterned cloth is sewn on. A pair of these classic shoes costs about 500 yuan ($73). REUTERS/Thomas Peter
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Neiliansheng, which has changed hands many times over the years, now makes more than 300 varieties of the shoes, all based on the same design conceived 150 years ago.

REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Neiliansheng, which has changed hands many times over the years, now makes more than 300 varieties of the shoes, all based on the same design conceived 150 years ago. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Neiliansheng, which has changed hands many times over the years, now makes more than 300 varieties of the shoes, all based on the same design conceived 150 years ago. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
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A customer tries on a handmade 'thousand-layer' cloth shoe at the Neiliansheng showroom. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

A customer tries on a handmade 'thousand-layer' cloth shoe at the Neiliansheng showroom. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

A customer tries on a handmade 'thousand-layer' cloth shoe at the Neiliansheng showroom. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
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New, more fashionable styles such as open-toed sandals and prints featuring characters such as Hello Kitty and Angry Birds cater to younger customers.

REUTERS/Thomas Peter

New, more fashionable styles such as open-toed sandals and prints featuring characters such as Hello Kitty and Angry Birds cater to younger customers. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

New, more fashionable styles such as open-toed sandals and prints featuring characters such as Hello Kitty and Angry Birds cater to younger customers. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
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Shoes embellished with feathers and pearls are used by Chinese opera performers.

REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Shoes embellished with feathers and pearls are used by Chinese opera performers. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Shoes embellished with feathers and pearls are used by Chinese opera performers. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
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A traditional 'thousand-layer' cloth shoe. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

A traditional 'thousand-layer' cloth shoe. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

A traditional 'thousand-layer' cloth shoe. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
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Cobbler Cai Wenke puts the finishing touches to a 'thousand-layer' cloth shoe. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Cobbler Cai Wenke puts the finishing touches to a 'thousand-layer' cloth shoe. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Cobbler Cai Wenke puts the finishing touches to a 'thousand-layer' cloth shoe. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
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Cobbler Cai Wenke works on a 'thousand-layer' cloth shoe. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Cobbler Cai Wenke works on a 'thousand-layer' cloth shoe. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Cobbler Cai Wenke works on a 'thousand-layer' cloth shoe. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
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Nails and tools used in production lie on a bench. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Nails and tools used in production lie on a bench. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Nails and tools used in production lie on a bench. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
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Cobbler Cai Wenke works on a "thousand-layer" cloth shoe. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Cobbler Cai Wenke works on a "thousand-layer" cloth shoe. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Cobbler Cai Wenke works on a "thousand-layer" cloth shoe. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
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A handmade 'thousand-layer' cloth shoe. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

A handmade 'thousand-layer' cloth shoe. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

A handmade 'thousand-layer' cloth shoe. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
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Cobbler Cai Wenke works on a "thousand-layer" cloth shoe. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Cobbler Cai Wenke works on a "thousand-layer" cloth shoe. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Cobbler Cai Wenke works on a "thousand-layer" cloth shoe. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
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A customer tries on a shoe. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

A customer tries on a shoe. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

A customer tries on a shoe. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
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People walk past the Neiliansheng shoemaker in Beijing. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

People walk past the Neiliansheng shoemaker in Beijing. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

People walk past the Neiliansheng shoemaker in Beijing. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
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A traditional 'thousand-layer' cloth shoe. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

A traditional 'thousand-layer' cloth shoe. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

A traditional 'thousand-layer' cloth shoe. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
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A traditional 'thousand-layer' cloth shoe. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

A traditional 'thousand-layer' cloth shoe. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

A traditional 'thousand-layer' cloth shoe. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
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A traditional 'thousand-layer' cloth shoe. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

A traditional 'thousand-layer' cloth shoe. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

A traditional 'thousand-layer' cloth shoe. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
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A traditional 'thousand-layer' cloth shoe. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

A traditional 'thousand-layer' cloth shoe. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

A traditional 'thousand-layer' cloth shoe. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
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A traditional 'thousand-layer' cloth shoe. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

A traditional 'thousand-layer' cloth shoe. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

A traditional 'thousand-layer' cloth shoe. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
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A traditional 'thousand-layer' cloth shoe. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

A traditional 'thousand-layer' cloth shoe. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

A traditional 'thousand-layer' cloth shoe. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
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