Shepherd Stilts




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By Dan Beard

Fig. 79. 
Sixteenth Century Anti-Gadabouts

At the close of the sixteenth century it was the style in Southern Europe for the women to wear, under their  dresses, stilts which, they claimed, gave them height and dignity of bearing; but it is hinted that their fathers and husbands introduced the style so as to make it difficult for them to walk, and cause them to stay at home, just as the Chinese of today keep up the style of cramping and deforming their women's feet to prevent them gadding about. 

These anti-gadabouts of the sixteenth century are all too heavy and clumsy for American boys, but a modification of the French shepherd's stilts are the very reverse, and might be properly called "gadabouts."

Fig. 80. 
Shepherds on Stilts

Shepherds on Stilts.

The French shepherds, perched on their long wooden sticks, look like ungainly storks, but they can spy a sheep when a man on the ground would be unable to detect him, and they can wade a stream dry shod, or, rather, with dry feet, for I believe they wear no shoes. 

Fig. 81. 
Dick's Leg Stilts with Straps

In fact, Dick's stilts, strapped on his sturdy legs (Figs. 74 and 81), are only a modification of these shepherd's wooden legs, and, if we give Dick the shepherd's long cane or pole, and shorten the distance to the ground, we have a pair of gadabouts, which, though requiring some skill to use, will not be dangerous, and will admit of the free use of the hands. Gadabouts are sometimes  used in Brooklyn, but I have never seen them in New York. 

See Also:

Giant Dance
Japanese Stilts
Stilt Tricks
Tattooed Stilt Walkers
Other Stilts

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Last modified: October 15, 2016.