Friday, March 19, 2010

A Stilt Performer

I came across this man on stilts walking through a park in Cozumel. Unfortunately, I did not get his name, but as you can see...he was wearing evening dress. I watched him stride across the park and literally had to run alongside him to catch up and ask for the photo. The man was very polite and accommodating, especially as he was on his way to work. He was advertising a shop called Diamonds (the logo runs down the outside of his pants) a very nice jewelry shop located on the main thoroughfare in Cozumel.

Once back in the States, I tried to find the origins of stilt walkers and found the following information - courtesy Bill “Stretch” Coleman.

Astounding Stilt Walking Events
In China, there is an old custom called "walking on stilts" that it is a performance which employs two lengths of wooden sticks over three metres long to one's feet and walking on them. It is also termed "tied-on long feet". This kind of performance can be traced back to very ancient origins. It is described in "Leizi"(a book), "There was a man named Lanzi in the state of Song (circa 7th century B.C.) who entertained the first Song emperor with his feet of walking and running with two wooden poles taller than himself attached to his lower legs. Performers are dressed as legendary characters and perform with long poles attached to their feet. It is a holiday folk performance, especially popular in some country areas.

1411 - Date of Namur (Belgium) town ordinance dealing with "Echasseur" or "jousting while wearing stilts"! Opposing teams of jousters, the Mélans and the Avresses, battle each other in a wild melee of blows using shoulders and elbows; shoving, jabbing, blocking and tripping their opponents. We observed one such enactment at the 2002 Dallas Texas State Fair.

This extraordinary sport is still practiced today.

Another troupe of stilt performers and jousters
A collection of jousting photos