These shepherds on stilts in the old days may have looked like high fashion models, but this was simply a way of life for them. This photo was taken by Félix Arnaudin in the late 19th century, and captures the innovative way shepherds navigated the marshy pastures while herding sheep in the Landes region of France.
The stilts were called tchangues ("big legs") by locals. Without the stilts, the unstable terrain was far too difficult to navigate.
People in Landes were trained to walk on the stilts from a young age. By the time they were old enough to herd sheep, the stilt walkers could move around with impressive ease and balance. "The five-foot wooden stilts were strapped to a person's legs and supplemented with a long staff which a shepherd used to direct his flock and as a support for resting. Perched comfortably atop this tripod configuration, a shepherd was afforded an elevated view to keep track of his sheep and watch for wolves."
See more epic photos of shepherds on stilts at Rare Historical Photos.
"A late 19th century photo by Félix Arnaudin which shows Gascon shepherds on stilts. They used the stilts to navigate the marshy pastures of the Landes region in the southwest of France."