Ethnographic

William 'Boy' Habraken

William Boy Habraken

Boy Habraken was literally born between shoes and leather at the end of the 2nd World War in Eindhoven, The Netherlands. He decided to leave his father's shoe-business when he was 20 years old and started his own import/wholesale company in footwear.

His business travels took him on many journeys all around the globe. He visited more than 120 countries and lived for several years in Taiwan.

In his spare time he collected shoes worn with traditional native costumes. The related information such as: the materials used, the way of making, the use, the age and the name in the native language was as important as the shoe itself.

This resulted in a unique collection of more than 3000 pairs of shoes from more than 155 countries and regions. Amongst them are some very rare pairs from North American Indians, Eskimo's, African tribes, Berbers, Bedouin, Mongols, the Ottoman and pre-Inca empires.

Large parts of the collection originate in Japan, India, Iran (Persia), Tibet and Pakistan.

The Chinese part of the collection would be hard matched by any Chinese Museum. Europe is represented from Iceland to Russia, and from Lapland to Spain. Also included are 'Karara' shoes, made from emu feathers and human hair which were worn by local Australian executioners during the Kurdaitcha ritual.

Magnificent bridal shoes come from Afghanistan, India, Syria and Turkey. As a real Dutchman he also collected many wooden shoes.

On the 19th of September 2006, Guinness World of Records confirmed that William (Boy) Habraken collected the largest collection of tribal and ethnographical shoes in the world.

Complete collection

Complete collection

  • 3322

    Ivory Coast

    Early 20st century

  • 1857

    China

    Late 20st century

  • 2720

    Russia
    Siberia

    Early 20st century

  • 2937

    Tunisia

    Late 19th century

  • 537

    Korea

    Middle 19th century

  • 134

    China
    Yunnan Province

    Middle 20st century

  • 206

    China
    Dali

    Late 20st century

  • 2351

    Mexico

    Early 20st century

  • 2638

    Indonesia
    Malacca straits

    Late 19th century

  • 1165

    Kenya
    Turkana Region

    Middle 20st century