Hèrmènt di sapaté

This is a tool to fix shoes of three different sizes. A paticipant found this tool when cleaning out the house of a deceased acquaintance. In Curaçao there always were a lot of cobblers. In the early 1970s a gentleman from the Dominican Republic even made shoes here. He lived in the Ronde Klip area.

Historically, footwear was a representation of social status on the island. Until the 1930s pedestrians who wanted to cross the Emma Bridge had to pay a toll if they wore shoes. Those who were barefoot could use the bridge for free. Soon enough richer people started taking off their shoes in order not to pay and poorer people started wearing shoes so they wouldn’t be seen as poor.

Shoes also play an important role in the Curaçaoan version of dominoes. The winning team gives a sapatu, a symbolic shoe, to the losers. If the losing team hasn’t won even one game in the match, they get the ultimate humiliation: a white shoe.

“Those who were barefoot could use the bridge for free.”