When you make a trip to Myanmar, it’s hard to escape the image of long-necked women of the Kayan tribe in Myanmar. These women must wear brass rings around their necks. This strange custom not only plays an important role in the life of the ethnic group but also contributes to the wealth of Burmese culture.
The Kayan is a group of the people of Karenni, a Tibetan-Myanmar ethnic minority. They live in the border areas of Burma (Myanmar) and Thailand. The Kayan women are beautiful, but they have to wear brass rings around their neck, which makes their neck longer. Unlike other women in the world, they are “beautiful” in their own traditional way. They can put up to 25 rings on their neck. For them, a long neck is a standard of beauty. In this spirit, the longer a woman’s neck is, the more beautiful she becomes. In addition, it is a proof of the nobility and wealth of the family.
A beautiful Kayan girl with long neck
Is it an impressive practice or a strange custom?
At the age of 5, Kayan girls begin wearing rings around their necks. These bracelets are stacked, making the necks of Kayan girls longer over time. In fact, it is the weight of the brass neck rings that exerts great pressure on the area of the clavicle and the chest resulting in a longer neck. Therefore, because of wearing brass rings for a long time, girls often have problems in the neck. The area around the neck is subject to permanent pain and the skin is thinner than other parts of the body. A set of neck rings can go up to a few dozen units with a full load of 10 kg. In this tribe, it is not everyone who has the ability to wear a complete set of neck rings. Making a trip to Myanmar and discover the customs of the Kayan people, you will better understand why this practice of wearing rings has an important meaning in Burmese culture. These neck rings that make up a part of Kayan women play a significant role in local life. Indeed, if they have to remove the rings, they feel uncomfortable. In addition, they may have serious health problems because the neck is too weak.
Long neck – the beauty of a Kayan woman, expresses the wealth and prosperity of her family
There are lots of explanations for this practice. Some say it is a way of differentiating the beauty of Kayan women from the other tribes. At the same time, this will prevent women from becoming victims of trafficking across the border. Other explains that they wear these neck rings because their mothers and their big sisters have also worn them. In reality, this practice derives essentially from an ancient legend. In a dream, the chief of the tribe is warned that on the fourth day after the birth of his child, a tiger will appear and attack the people. It bits their necks until death. Since then, it has been decided that all children born on the fourth day of the week must wear rings around their necks, so the tiger will not appear. For this reason, people believe in the effectiveness of the rings. Over time, this practice has spread and has become one of the strange and unique customs of the Kayan ethnic group.
The Kayans are friendly and always smile with the tourists
Exciting Myanmar travel offer you exceptional opportunities to discover the cultural life of the Kayan. It is thus impressive to realize that women will keep the neck rings until their death. According to the tradition and custom of the Karen people, the woman who betrays her husband will have the rings removed. She will be isolated by the people in the community and will have to stand still. Otherwise, she will break her neck, which will be her punishment. In addition, Kayan girls should also wear rings around their feet and hands in order to keep their hands and feet at this size.
The custom of wearing rings around the neck is one of the cultural characteristics of Myanmar people. Today, this is one of the popular customs in Burma. The Kayan woman wearing bronze necklaces became a concern of many social scientists. In particular, this practice, which is a part of the rich Burmese culture, draws many tourists to Myanmar. Every year, about a thousand of travelers to Myanmar visit the village to learn more about them. So when will you make your Burma tours?