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

  • 1421

    Slovakia
    Karpaty Mountains

    Early 20st century

  • 1168

    Japan
    Kyoto

    Early 20st century

  • 1783

    United States
    Alaska

    Early 20st century

  • 58

    Canada
    North East

    Middle 20st century

  • 864

    Syria
    Dayr-Az-Zawr

    Early 20st century

  • 1413

    Pakistan
    Punjab

    Middle 19th century

  • 1474

    China

    Late 19th century

  • 2981

    China

    Early 20st century

  • 2696

    India
    Calcutta

    Late 19th century

  • 328

    France
    Bourges - Centre

    Middle 19th century