Kayan Tribe in Myanmar
During our visit to Inle Lake we visited a shop where a few members of a long neck Padaung Family from a Ywama Village do weaving that they sell in the local area. The Padaung Kayan people are a subgroup of the Red Karen (Karenni) people. The tribe is known to inhabit this area of Myanmar as well as Northern Myanmar and Thailand. We were able to photograph one of the older ladies of the tribe in the small group to capture this image.
Women of the Kayan tribe are well known for wearing neck rings and brass coils that are placed around the neck, appearing to lengthen it. Girls first start to wear rings when they are around five years old. Over the years the coil is replaced by a longer one and more turns are added. The weight of the brass pushes the collarbone down and compresses the rib cage. The neck itself is not lengthened; the appearance of a stretched neck is created by the deformation of the clavicle. Once the rings are put in place they are very rarely removed because muscles become weak and cannot provide head support after many years.
This group in Myanmar wore one continuous ring while others in Thailand wear individual rings that are stacked together. There are many theories on why the rings are worn. Some theories state that they are worn to look more attractive with a longer thinner neck. Other theories say the rings are worn for protection and give the illusion of a dragon. Many women today say it is more about cultural identity than beauty.
I have wanted to visit the tribes in Thailand near the Chang Mai region for some time and this made me want to take the trip even more in the next few years.