Why Do The Kayan Women Of Burma Put Brass Rings Around Their Necks?

It is western Burma, and the women with the long necks are the tribeswomen of Padaung.

Brass rings worn around the necks of the women make their necks look as though they were twelve inches long. Each of the rings is one-third of an inch in diameter.

There are 36 of them, and they weigh a total of 20 pounds. On top of the stack is a little pad on which the woman can rest her chin if she wishes. A

Polish explorer who was one of the first Europeans to visit this strange country thought the women’s necks were so long, they looked as though they were giraffes. He was the first to call this the land of the Giraffe Women.

The first rings go on when the little girl is 5 years old. New rings are added as they can be fitted on the neck. Does it really make a woman’s neck longer? No, it only looks that way. But it sure does make her hold her head up high.

As a matter of fact, because the rings hold up the head, all the neck muscles become weak. If a woman wishes to remove the rings, she must start to exercise her neck muscles to restore their health and strength.

If she takes off the rings without first strengthening her muscles, her head will flop over, and she may suffocate.

The Padaung are also known as the The Kayan. They are a group of the Karenni people, a Tibeto-Burman ethnic minority of Burma.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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