Captain Blackthorn grimaced against the salt air that sandblasted his face. His men were weary, his ship was falling apart and the hold was replete with treasures beyond counting. It was time to head home and enjoy the bounty that years at sea had brought them. As he braced himself against the pressing squall he considered the conundrum of converting said bounty into a transferable asset that could easily be spent without arousing suspicion of the local militia or the jealousy of rival pirates. If only large amounts of wealth could be represented on something as light and unobtrusive as a piece of paper. But then Blackthorn had a idea:
"I know what we'll do! We'll bury it!…"
In ancient China, women bind their feet for cosmetic reasons, resulting in them not able to walk without help and walking in a shuffling gait.
Possibly this can be modified such that people do it for less stupid reasons.
Disclaimer: This is NOT a racist remark since I'm Chinese myself and hence entitled to freely judge Chinese customs. NOT sexist either since I'm female as well.