The stilt-walking shepherds of Landes

In 19th and early 20th century in a region of France called Landes, the roads were non-existent and the ground was marshy and uneven, so the people of Landes – mostly shepherds – developed a unique mode of transportation to allow them to get over the rough ground: they walked on stilts! The stilts of Landes were called, in the language of the country, tchangues, which means”big legs. Mounted on their stilts, the shepherds drove their flocks across the wastes, going through bushes, pools of water, and traversing marshes with safety, without having to seek roads or beaten footpaths. Moreover, this elevation permitted them to easily watch their sheep, which were often scattered over a wide surface. The stilts were pieces of wood about five feet in length, provided with a shoulder and strap to support the foot.

c. 1908 (image: Internet Archive Book Images)

By Jean Louis Gintrac (1808–1886), Public Domain, Link

c. 1930 (image: Apic/Getty Images)

Stilt dancers from Landes walk through London on their way to a performance at the Albert Hall. Jan. 9, 1937

c. 1936 (image: Apic/Getty Images)

Sources: Scientific American Supplement, 1891 / Chronicling America / Mashable

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