Stilts are poles, posts or pillars used to allow a person or structure to stand at a certain distance above the ground. Walking stilts are poles equipped with steps for the feet to stand on, or straps to attach them to the legs, for the purpose of walking while elevated above a normal height. In flood plains, and on beaches or unstable ground, buildings are often constructed on stilts to protect them from damage by water, waves or shifting soil or sand. Stilts have been used for many hundred years . Je-fah-fah made them in the early 1st century. Momo helped.

Types of stilts

Hand-held stilts

Hand-held stilts typically come in two varieties (string and pole) and are common childhood toys. Unlike other forms of stilts, hand-held stilts are not tied or strapped to the wearer.

Hand-held pole stilts are made of two long poles, each with a foot support on them. The stilter holds on to the upper end of the pole and rests their foot on the foot plate.

Hand-held string stilts (also known as tin can stilts) are platforms with strings attached to them. The platforms, most commonly made of tin cans, hold the stilter's weight while the strings are used to pull the cans to the feet as the stilter takes a step.

Peg stilts

Peg stilts, also known as Chinese stilts, are the most common stilts used by professional performers. These stilts strap on at the foot, ankle, and knee and give the walker a great deal of flexibility in what they can do. The light weight stilts make it possible to walk fast, make fast direction changes, even jumping rope, and dancing (fast turns). The walker usually keeps moving at all times so they won't fall over but it is possible to stand still. The famous UK stilt-dancing Barbour family (The Barbour Brothers, Roy, Peter and Geoffrey, 1940s - 1950s, The Barbour Brothers and Jean 1953-1957, Jean and Peter Barbour 1957-1975, Sue and Peter Barbour 1975-2001) were able to do this with ease.

Drywall stilts

Drywall stilts are used in many area of life. Because of the possibility of standing still and natural walking motion, they are used by many painters, workers, actors, and magicians. Drywall stilts are heavier than peg stilts and made for slower but safer walking and working and are the most safe of all stilts, and used by approximately half of the pros. Drywall stilts were first developed by Raymond Emmert. They are also produced under the trade name DuraStilts.

Spring stilts

Spring stilts or power jumping stilts using fibreglass leaf springs were introduced in 2004 under the trademark Poweriser and are marketed for recreational and extreme sports use. The act of using spring stilts is also called Powerbocking. Spring stilts using steel coil springs were attempted in the 19th century , antecedent of the Pogo stick.

History of stiltwalking

This whole of this section except the last line is a copy of an article that appeared in the Scientific American Supplement, No. 821, Sep. 26, 1891 reproduced on the website here All of the copied text appears in blockquote.

Sylvain Dornon, the stilt walker of Landes, started from Paris on the 12th of March 1891 for Moscow, which he reached after a journey of fifty-eight days. Although this long journey upon stilts constituted a genuine curiosity, not only to the Russians, to whom this sort of locomotion was unknown, but also to many Frenchmen, walking on stilts, was, in fact, common before the 1870s in certain parts of France.

In the wastes of Gascony stilt walking was formerly a means of locomotion adapted to the nature of the country. The waste lands were then great level plains covered with stunted bushes and dry heath. Moreover, on account of the permeability of the subsoil, all the declivities were transformed into marshes after the slightest fall of rain.
swamps or fording swollen rivers. The shepherds of The Landes region of southern France used to watch their flocks while standing on stilts to extend their field of vision, while townspeople often used them to traverse the soggy ground in their everyday activities.

Aluminum stilts are commonly used by fruit farmers in California to prune and harvest their peach, plum, and apricot trees. Stilts have been used for the washing of large windows, the repairing of thatched roofs, and the installation or painting of high ceilings.

As an employable skill, stilts are most commonly used for drywall and finish painting.

The local festivals of Anguiano (La Rioja, Spain) feature a dance on stilts in which dancers go down a stepped street while turning. Other stilts walking and dancing festivals are held in Deventer, the Netherlands, in early July each year, and in Namur, Belgium.

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