sandals front 2005.08.05.jpgsandalstag 2005.08.05.jpg

Time Period: 1960-1970

Accession Number: 2008.08.05

Category: Accessories, Shoes

Donor: Cathy Cerny


These contemporary sandals are either American or British, with a style influenced by Greece. They look like a version of the popular gladiator sandal that are worn in warm weather climates or during summer months today. The sandals came into the University of Rhode Island collection in 2005, and were donated by Cathy Cerny. According to the donor records of the Historic Textile and Costume Collection, the sandals were "Worn by John Page Cerny following Army service, including duty in Vietnam. During this time he received a JD degree from UC Davis and a MBA in finance from UC Berkeley." These brown leather, size 10, men's sandals have a rubber, tire-like, black sole that is attached by what appears to be metal nails. The material is tough and was definitely made for rough terrain; it is unknown where the sandals were made. Each sandal is about 11 inches/28 centimeters long and 3/4 inch/1.9 centimeters thick. Two leather straps, with one going around the ankle, are how the sandal is held on to the foot. The tightness of the strap can be adjusted easily for the best fit. The tire sole seems to have been inspired Vietnamese Tire Sandals, which were used by soldiers during the Vietnam war in the 1940s. The tire sandals were superior to boots because of the humid climate. They were cheap, easy to make, and water resistant, preventing fungal infections that many soldiers suffered. [1] By the structure of these sandals, they look like they were used for function rather than fashion. The sandals are in extremely good condition for their age.


Sandal comes from its Latin name, sandalium. [2] The sandal was the ancient footwear of Greek, Roman, and Egyptian civilizations. Although these sandals are contemporary, their design look to be inspired by Greco-Roman times when the shoes were worn by gladiators during a fight or war. Their footwear was designed to endure anything, and the sandals did it well. The leather used for these sandals and the many others created by ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians has a history of it's own. Primitive men took the hides and skins of animal carcass and used them for shelter, clothing, and footwear. The earliest use of leather dates back tot he Palaeolithic period. The first crude leathers were made by putting raw hides and skin into a fermenting solution, eliminating the hair. The hide was preserved with fats, brains, and wood smoke. Tanning is the process of turning pelt into leather; early man achieved this with an infusion of tannin-containing barks, sticks, leaves, and certain fruits. [3] Thousands of years after, these type of sandals are still popular and the styles have varied over time. [4] The Oxford Dictionary defines Gladiator Sandal as an "opened-toed T-bar sandal with multiple straps running across the foot in a style designed to resemble that of the footwear of ancient Roman gladiators." [5]

Sandals are very diverse in the way they can be made. They have been made from materials such as straw, leather, cloth, plants, cow-hide, stone and wood over the past thousands of years. Dating back to 8,000 years ago, the sandal is one of the most commonly worn footwear worldwide, especially in hotter climates. Many different civilizations had their own version of the sandal, with it evolving over time. They were made to withstand tough walking conditions, such as mountainous landscapes or hot sand; different types of sole shapes were created by North African and Middle Easterners to better endure desert walking. [6] Some of the first sandals ever worn were by Egyptians, made of palm-leaves and papayrus. [7] Ancient Egyptian artwork depicts an Egyptian king being followed by his sandal-bearer. Sandals were worn by kings, "they were intended to separate him from the people since he was of much higher status, and from the gods in certain contexts. Often those scenes where pharaoh was depicted as closely connected to the terrestrial realm." Along with the practical uses of the sandal, they were often associated with purity and social class. Specific types of sandals were worn by each social class. For those in a high social class, sandals with a pointed, upturned toe and unique straps
were worn. As for the lower social class, they wore sandals with a very thick sole and had a lengthened front with a rounded toe. [8] King Tutankhamun was an Egyptian pharaoh during the Eighteenth Dynasty. "Tutankhamun's sandals are predominately of fiber, with elaboration confined to an overload of gold and decoration rather than any technological sophistication: they are basically identical to Old and Middle kingdom sandals." White sandals specifically were related to purity, and it was tradition to be buried with sandals in the tomb. King Tutankhamun was buried with over 40 sandals and other shoes in his tomb. They are now displayed in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Fifteen "leather composite sandals" are presented in the Studies of Ancient Egyptian Footwear Project found here:

In the Egyptian period during the Nineteenth Dynasty, narrow, colorful sandals with long points appeared. The sandals were primarily worn by women, but there are depictions from the Twenty-second Dynasty that show men wearing sandals of similar design, "with recurved toes of such dimensions that the point is attached to the ankle strap." Similar to the Ancient Egyptians, sandals worn by the Romans were important to social status and funerals. The more curled and pointed the toe of the sandal was, the higher the social status of the individual. There was a scene in a Twenty-second Dynasty that showed a servant wearing plain sandals, and the other person (probably royal or of higher status), wearing elaborate, very curled-toed sandals. The Romans also brought along the style of sandal in which the side straps are either inserted separately or woven into the leather sole. Ankle and toe straps were either Y-shaped or T-shaped, and would sometimes go around the back of the foot to increase in width and elaboration. This set the stage to inspire the design of gladiator sandals. Also in the Roman period, leather sandals were primarily made with cured leather, instead of tanned leather like the Egyptians had used. [9] Sandals evolved for thousands of years afterwards. During the time these gladiator sandals were actually worn by John Page Cerny, fashion in the 1960s and 1970s had many diverse trends. During this period men's footwear offered an enormous variety of styles and colors. Interwoven leather uppers and simple slip-on shoes were popular during the summer. With the 1960s and 1970s came the overwhelming hippie trend, a unique lifestyle and style of dress. Hippies would go barefoot, wear moccasins and simple sandals similar to those worn by Cerny. [10]

Over time, the sandal has made its way around the world and is still one of the most popularly shoes worn today. New versions of the sandal include flip flops, high-heeled sandals, thong sandals, huarache sandals, and espadrilles. High fashion sandals have become a distinct part of women's wardrobes since the 1900s, but men's sandals have never reached that status. Men's sandals are not considered formal footwear and can be inappropriate in most work and professional settings. Gladiator sandals and many other types are mostly worn as beach and casual wear. [11]


Hannah Moran TMD 224H S15

Last updated:

May 1, 2015

Other Images:

sandalsside 2005.08.05.jpg
  1. ^ "Cambodian Recycled Tire Sandals." JAUNT MAGAZINE. July 30, 2010. Accessed April 28, 2015.
  2. ^ "Sandal." The Free Dictionary. Accessed April 26, 2015.
  3. ^ "Where Does Leather Come From?" How Is Leather Made? Accessed April 28, 2015.
  4. ^ Walford, Jonathon. "History of Sandals." LoveToKnow. Accessed March 20, 2015.
  5. ^ "Definition of Gladiator Sandal in English:." Gladiator Sandal: Definition of Gladiator Sandal in Oxford Dictionary (American English) (US). Accessed April 28, 2015.
  6. ^ Van Driel-Murray, Carol. "Google Books - Ancient Egyptian Materials and Technology." Google Books. Accessed March 20, 2015. sandal materials &ots=zt_3meAGEy&sig=NarrnB1Z54ljE230SOXK0qng6Xw#v=onepage&q=ancient sandal materials&f=false. (page 314 and 315)
  7. ^ J. Veldmeijer, Andre. "STUDIES OF ANCIENT EGYPTIAN FOOTWEAR. TECHNOLOGICAL ASPECTS. PART X. LEATHER COMPOSITE SANDAL." In PalArch’s Journal of Archaeology of Egypt/Egyptology, 6(9) (2009. Amsterdam: PalArch Foundation, 2009.
  8. ^ " Analysis of Royal Sandals in Ancient Egypt." Art of Counting Analysis of Royal Sandals in Ancient Egypt Part 1 Comments. Accessed March 20, 2015.
  9. ^ "Fancy Footwear From Ancient Egypt : DNews." DNews. December 12, 2012. Accessed March 20, 2015.
  10. ^ "Men's Shoes." Dolmansaxlil. Accessed May 1, 2015.
  11. ^ Wilkinson. Manners and Customs. Vol. III. Page 336.