|Have you ever seen a 3-meter tall man prancing about on the road? Mr Yap is such a man. In real life he is only half that height, but on special occasions he mounts his 1.5-meter stilts and doubles his height.|
Stilt-walking is not as easy as some people seem to think. In the past, a stilt-walker walked on stilts and clowned about. Today, in order to keep the crowd's attention, he has to perform some daring acrobatic acts such as somersaulting over a table or jumping through a ring of fire. Mr Yap works constantly at improving his skills, introducing one dangerous trick after another.
According to Mr Yap, not all stilt-walkers do acrobatics. Some of them dress up as women to play female roles. More men are expected to do this in future as female stilt-walkers are scarce today. The men selected to play female roles are those whose faces can be made to resemble women's faces, with the clever use of make-up. They must also be good at impersonating ancient Chinese maidens in the way they talk, walk and behave.
Mr Yap does not perform on festive occasions like the Chingay procession. However, he performs at religious ceremonies and at funerals. The Chinese believe that stilt-walking, which many worshippers enjoy, provides entertainment for the gods at religious ceremonies and is a mark of respect for the dead at funerals.
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