Women with neck coils
The Kayan tradition of wearing a brass coil around their neck has attracted tourists, anthropologists and journalist alike.Because of this tradition the Shan people called this long-neck tribe ‘Yan Pa Doung’ meaning ‘Karen brass wound people’, this name was adopted by the Burmans and Thais who refer to the people as Padoung. This particular form of body modification has likely been a Kayan tradition for over a thousand years.
There are many tales told concerning the tradition of the ring wearing. A popular one amongst guides to the village is that the rings are worn to protect against tiger bites, but this is almost certainly false. It is also nothing to do with the day they are born.
Other more credible stories tend to involve one or more of the following themes:
- The wearing of a large amount of jewellery including the rings was a method to stop valuables being stolen by melting them down and wearing them.
- The rings identified the women so that they would not be taken by other tribes.
- The rings are a status symbol for women as, according to Kayan legend, they are the descendant of the Mother Dragon "She".
- They are worn for beauty, as the various tribes vied for attention in a kind of 'beauty contest'.
in the appearance of a very long neck. In fact, the neck does not elongate, this is impossible.
A full set of neck rings weighs about 10kilos. The full set of neck rings is made from three separate coils, the main neck coil and a wider coil near the shoulders with a small coil wrapped around it at 90 degrees.Brass coils are also worn around the legs. The rings rubbing against the skin can cause discomfort and abrasions over a period of time.
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