Few things are more Australian than the humble thong but their origins predate European colonisation of the antipodes by many thousands of years. There is much evidence the thong stylr foot covering was one of the first things made by our primitive ancestors.
Among the relics of early Egyptians are some sandals made from plaited papyrus leaves, beautifully and artistically wrought. However, the necessity to protect their feet from rough ground was not the only reason for shoes. Footwear styles and designs often depicted the rank or status of the wearer and were conspicuous statements. The difference between the commoner's sandal and the Pharaoh's sandal for example was a peaked toe. This ostentatious extension had no function but merely denoted a person of high born status (1200 BC).
Many experts now believe the Ankh was a flattened thong.
In Homer's time (1000-700BC), the Krepis, or soldier's shoe (sandal with attitude) was a thong with ankle strapping. There was also a lady's Krepis which was a brightly coloured version of the anklet sandal. The carved tongue or lingula, was the indication of a free person or citizen (the tongue or free spirit). The thong or toe strap was distinctive and depending on which toe was involved was representative of the different civilizations. The Greeks made use of the great toe, the Romans, the second digit and the Mesopotamians, the third toe. The Greeks emphasised design and beauty, while the Romans devised a military thong enabling their legions to travel the empire on foot.
Probably the most famous thong was worn by Mercury, fabled messenger of the gods. The winged thongs were called Talaria Crepida. Classic mythology and folklore abound with examples. For instance, in Greek mythology sandals were what separated mortals from the Underworld (Hell). Heel and hell share the same origins in etymology in our language.
Leather Buskins (bushkin hyroglyph is read as "Ush", the mother) were introduced in Roman Times and were worn by the tragic actors. In the more luxurious days of the late Roman Empire, thongs were decorated with gold and precious stones. Throughout development, comparatively little attention has been paid to fitting qualities or comfort. Although some of the early sandals displayed definite pairs. After the end of the Roman Empire with the invasion of the barbarians and the almost complete loss of craft and craftsmanship, shoes became very expensive and were commonly passed from father to son, hence following in your father's footsteps and dead men's shoes.
During the Dark Age much symbolic significance was put on shoes and they were often regarded as taking on the persona of their owner. Shoes were kept as keepsakes or included as good luck charms for this purpose.
The moccasin was the foot protection of colder countries. The puckered seam which outlined the forepart of the moccasin is all that remains of the puckering string once gathered and tied about the ankle. The sandal is considered by many experts to be the sexiest of all shoes. It should be no surprise therefore to find our all Australian males sporting the sexy thong.
The thong is often maligned and dismissed as inadequate footgear. Truth is provided they fit the feet and are worn for normal sedentary activities then these are no worse than any other shoes. Sandals do not offer support to the foot however and are inappropriate for accelerated activities such as running and twisting.