Human postural habits have anatomical and physiological limitations, but there are a great many choices, the determinants for which appear to be mostly cultural. The number of significantly different body attitudes capable of being maintained steadily is probably on the order of one thousand. Certain postures may occur in all cultures without exception, and may form a part of our basic hominid heritage. The upright stance with arms at the sides, or with hands clasped in the midline over the lower abdomen, certainly belongs in this category. A fourth of mankind habitually squats in a fashion very similar to the squatting position of the chimpanzee, and the rest of us might squat this way too if we were not trained to use other postures beyond infancy. Anthropoid postures may shed some light on the problem of which human ones are most likely to be “natural” or precultural, although ape limb proportions would deter us from relying too heavily on such evidence.
Descriptions of postures and sketches of figures:
Nilotic one-legged resting stance, Chair-sitting postures, Deep squatting postures, Sitting with legs stretched out, Cross-legged or “tailor-fashion” postures, Kneeling on knees and feet or knees and heels, Sitting with the legs folded to the side, One knee up other down and flexed