Long Neck Karen

 In the Mae Hong Sorn and Bann Thaton area, the women of the Karen Padaung villages wear multiple brass rings around the neck, the arms and the legs, and for this tribe the rings are the most prominent sign of female beauty and status. The rings on the neck reach from the clavicle up to beneath the chin, and these rings are always held very tighly by the bone structure from clavicle to chin. This neck ring adornment is started when the girls are 5 or 6 years old and the neck grows longer as additional rings are added with each passing year. It is from this practice that this tribe has gained the name of “Long Necks”. One woman in Plam Piang Din Village wears 37 brass rings around her neck and this is considered ideal.

2 thoughts on “Long Neck Karen

  1. Hi Susie –
    Your photos are amazing, as usual. When we were traveling in the same area, we had a guide who was from one of the tribal groups. The practice of putting rings on little girls necks had almost disappeared. You probably noticed that most of the ‘ ringed necks’ belonged girls and young women. They discovered that it was a good source of tourist dollars to restart this practice.

    As they add rings, it doesn’t actually lengthen their necks, it lowers their shoulders by slowly deforming their clavicle. If the rings are removed, these girls are unable to support weight of their own head.

    Although they are great to photograph, many guides in the tribal areas boycott this tribe to get them to stop deforming their children for money.

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    • Interesting, and I think the photos make people aware of this practice and how horrible it must be for them, yet they insisted (at least to us) that the admission fees they charge provide education and health carae for them.
      A lot of these women came from Burma where the oppression was horrible, so they did find it was better for them here.

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