Vietnamese Toes


I found out something recently that was, to me, a huge revelation.
I have MISSING sesamoid bones in my big toes. astonished-face_1f632

Let me hasten to assure you, it’s not due to my clumsy nature that caused me to misplace them somewhere.  I was just never born with them.  I was told by my podiatrist that this is in no way my fault, although me being me (glamour-afflicted taobabe), my habit of wearing pointy-toed high heels for such an extended time, had altered the shape of my foot.  Although it is not life-threatening, it is rather ugly.

But what can I do.  It’s not contagious, and the only way I can pass this affliction on would be through my progeny.  Apparently, congenital absence of a sesamoid bone (let alone two) is extremely rare.  I’m a rare one.


See this picture?  That’s my foot and that’s my x-ray.  Those two circles at the base of my big toe are not strange looking bones.  They were circles drawn in by my podiatrist, with a ball point pen, as she explained to me why my toe was shifting to the left so much.  After decades of wearing female shoes, my toes were starting to take on the shape of the shoes I wore because I was missing important bones to keep them straight.

highheelsI asked her what the ramification of these missing bones were.  Was it life-threatening?  She smiled and said no.  It would just mean my toes (I’m missing them on my other feet too) would just continue to shift throughout my life until I died.

From now until forever, I will no longer be able to wear pointy toe stiletto heels.  In fact, NO MORE HEELS OF ANY SORT.  (cry)

Disheartened to hear that I am a freak of nature, I decided to do some research to see what the disease is and how I can go about fixing this situation.  Here’s what I found.

Sesamoid Bone

The human body only has five types of bones.  We have flat bones, long bones, short bones, irregular bones, and we have sesamoid bones.  What, pray tell, is a sesamoid bone?  Well, for starters, my knee cap is a sesamoid bone.  It lives in connective tissue and it is there to make sure my knees don’t do this:


All jokes aside, it is an important bone, so when it goes missing, it affects the shape of the bones it’s meant to support.  Now, you may be asking yourself:  Why the hell is this woman belaboring this pointless point?

Well.  I’m a Taobabe, and I have my reasons.  Bear up with me.

Giao Chỉ


There is a small group of people in Vietnam who have this strange affliction.  They come from an area in present-day China known as Giao Chỉ (the Chinese call them Jiaozhi).

They were originally part of the 15 states of  Văn Lang, Vietnam’s original name (more about this in future postings), and they have one thing that sets them apart from all the other Văn Lang states.

They also have missing sesamoid toe bones. 

The fact that they were the only ones out of all the Viets, from ancient past till now, who had this, let’s call it affliction, points to a genetic inheritance that is uniquely theirs.

Or should I say OURS.

laughinggirl8I’m laughing as I type this because I suddenly remember that my mother and her father (my maternal grandfather) also had the same weirdly crooked toes that I do.

Last year, when I was giving her a pedicure, and had painted her toes a nice pretty pink, I noticed the same exact toe configuration on Mom and asked her about it.  She told me everyone on her dad’s side of the family had the same odd toes.

Come to think of it, my maternal grandfather’s given name was Kim Chỉ.  I always thought his name meant needle and thread, but Mother always said that’s not what it means at all.  It was just the name of where he came from.  Since he was missing the word Giao, I never connected the name to the region.  I bet one of his siblings’ name is Giao.

Since this is coming to me through my mom’s side, I cannot rule out the very real possibility that my maternal ancestors were the people who originated out of that Giao Chỉ region of the state of Giao Châu, which is located in present day North Vietnam and parts of Quãng Đông (Guangdong) and Quãng Tây (Guangzhou).


I must admit, I never thought about the fact that Guangdong was just another spelling for Quãng Đông, which is basically the Vietnamese words for Eastern Region.  Same with Guangzhou, it just means Western Region.  All I had to do was say it out loud and I realized I was speaking in Vietnamese.  I was just letting the strange spelling of the name confuse me into thinking it wasn’t originally a Viet state.  But now I know, and knowing means I win.

So now, I’m dying to do a 23andme genetic test to see what the heck is going on with me at the genetic level.  Sadly, I know it’s not going to tell me much because the chances of having a large group of Giao Chỉ individuals who have previously submitted their genetic data into the pool is just about zilch.  Maybe far far down the line, Viet peeps will have more of a data presence, but for now, it’s just a waste of my money.

But I digress.  I need to show you guys some pictures of moder-day Giao Chỉ toes.  

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The Giao Chỉ people are not just Vietnamese people from the region of Giao Châu.  In fact, the word Giao Chỉ is often used to denote the people of ancient Vietnam due to the large area that Giao Châu occupies.

Now, before you go telling me that it’s just an aberrant of nature and these images are just one-off, of people who may have gotten some strange bone disease that are not indicative of an entire population, I hasten to assure you that is not the case at all.


This is an illustration taken out of a history text from two French doctors, P. Huard and Bigot from their Bulletin de la Société Médico-Chirurgicale de L’Indochine volume XV, 5 in May of 1937 pg 489-506.  They documented this genetic trait in a population of people, and it was not something that was caused by lack of proper nutrition or an accident.

My toes don’t move outwards.  They move inwards.  Could it be due to the fact that I wore shoes all my life and my toes just naturally formed into shoe-shape?  Had I not worn shoes, maybe my toes might have spread outward in this fashion.

I don’t know, but it’s interesting to speculate.