Hawaiian Stilt Walking

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27. Ku-ku-lu-a-e-o - Stilts

[Page 216] Walking or racing on stilts is a common amusement of men, boys, and girls. Andrews mentions o-he as timber suitable for making stilts, and gives "to stand on stilts."

In the Marquesas islands stilts were used, the foot-rests of which were highly carved. These rests were lashed to poles six feet in length which also were carved. Examples of the rests in the Museum of the University of Pennsylvania (Cat. No. 18016) are carved, as is usual, with human figures. Brigham1 reports specimens in many European collections, and in the Musée de Marine in the Louvre, a pair attached to poles for use. Another pair of carved bamboo stilts in the Christy collection, designated as "dancing stilts," are figured by Ratzel.2

Ellis3 says that in Tahiti walking on stilts was a favorite amusement with the youth of both sexes. The stilts were formed by nature and generally consisted of the straight branches of a tree, with a smaller branch projecting on one side. The bare feet were placed on this short branch, and thus, elevated about three feet from the ground, they pursued their pastime. Stilt-walking in New Zealand is mentioned by Taylor4 under the name of pouturu, and Tregear5 adds araporaka.

1. Director's Report, Bishop .Museum, Honolulu, 1898.
2. History of Mankind, Vol. I, p. 193, London, 1896.
3. Vol. I, p. 228.
4. Op. cit., p. 174.
5. Op. cit., p. 116.

Last update February 3, 2010