Padaung Women of the Kayan tribe hail from the hills of Northern Thailand right at the border Myanmar.
The women are popularly known as the ‘giraffe women’ because of their long necks formed by coils around their necks.
The Padaung women’s tradition attires are made of beautiful colours, a turban with short thick loose shift and leggings.
The long-necked women wear short, dark-blue skirt and wear short- sleeved smocks when working.
A section of the elders in the tribe explained that having the brass coils signifies wealth, status and beauty.The coils are made up of brass and alloy.
According to the Guinness World Record, Padaung Women neck’s stretch up to over 15 inches.
The women, due to the coils cannot lean their heads back nor drink directly from cups, they use straws.
According to specialist reports, as the coils are added, they push collar bone and ribs down forming the elongated neck.When the coils are removed, the muscles weaken but the neck does not collapse.
The Padaung Women do not have a direct answer as to why they stretch their necks but have continued honoring and respecting the old tradition.
But, speculations have it that the female giraffes stretch their necks to protect themselves from tigers which normally attack the neck.
Others say that long necks lessened their beauty hence kept men from rival tribes away from wooing the Padaung women.
It is also said that Padaung Women wore the brass coils to thwart slave traders.
It is also speculated that the tribe started wearing coils as a tribute to dragon-mother progenitor and after a while they coped up with the custom as the Padaung men found them more attractive.
At the time when the custom was just starting, the women were warned against removing the coils as they believed they could get punished by being suffocated.
Although with time they started removing the coils and their necks never collapsed neither did they suffocate.
A girl is qualified to have the coils at the age of five. The process is done by a medicine man who has the knowledge of the bones. Padaung women add the coils every year.
Thet take care of the coils by washing them regularly using steel wool, and a mixture of lime, straw and tamarind bark.
The tribe has become a major tourism attraction in Burma and Thailand. Because they are refugees and do not have permanent jobs, the Padaung Women display themselves to the tourists who end up tipping them.
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