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

  • 3140

    Japan

    Middle 20st century

  • 1718

    Mexico
    Taxco

    Middle 20st century

  • 4

    Afghanistan

    Early 20st century

  • 103

    China
    Guizhou Province

    Early 20st century

  • 2223

    United Kingdom

    Middle 19th century

  • 81

    Canada
    New Brunswick

    Middle 19th century

  • 693

    Nigeria
    Lagos

    Middle 20st century

  • 1373

    Iran
    Hazar Masjed

    Middle 20st century

  • 786

    Romania
    Timisoara

    Middle 20st century

  • 257

    China
    Beijing

    Middle 19th century