French Swag on Stilts




Usually the concept of « stilts » is associated with circus performances or street performers.

However, in the Landes (region in the south-west of France), until the beginning of the 20th century, it was often possible to meet people walking on stilts.

They were mostly shepherds, watching their flocks from above.

They were trained to move on stilts from an early age, so they were very cleverly controlled with two sticks.

Men and women were easily balanced, could even pick flowers on the move. In addition, the speed of movement increased.

Once, in 1808, that region was crossed by Josephine, the wife of Napoleon Bonaparte. A convoy on stilts greeted her while the carriage was moving. The residents easily managed to move with the speed of movement of horses.

Stilts were made of solid wood as thick as a regular cane. To the sticks were attached staples plates, which became their feet. To prevent stilts from erasing quickly, a bone knob was put on their lower end.

In the XIX century, swamps in the lands began to drain and plant trees. Gradually, the need to move on stilts no longer.

This tradition has been preserved only among the shepherds, for whom it is easier from above to watch the flock of sheep and look for wolves.

By the way, in the XIX century, walking on stilts was popular not only in the landscape. Some aristocrats decided to « make » it fashionable.


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