The "Giraffe" Women of Kayan Tribe

  • Northern Thailand, On the border of Burma and Thailand, there are Kayan tribe,that has gained fame because of a quirky but beautiful tradition that is still being practiced today.

  • The Kayan women are known for the brass coils they wear around their neck. Because of this, they are often called the “long necks” or the “giraffe women”. At just 5 years old, girls start wearing brass rings around their necks, as they grow older, more rings are added, and eventually, their necks start to look elongated, These women can wear up to 25 coils, some neck pieces can weigh up to 22 pounds.
  • The tradition is said to stretch back 1000 years .There are many legends concerning the tradition of ring wearing and the Kayan themselves disagree over the origins.
  1. To deter the men of other tribes and races from kidnapping the Kayan women.
  2. The rings are a status symbol for women as, according to Kayan legend, they are the descendant of a union between the “Mother Dragon” and a zawghi– (a male creature half human and half angel).
  3. it was believed that tigers would come to the village and attack the people. The way to protect the women is to put these brass copper rings around their neck.
  4. The wealth of a family was worn by the women.
  • Nowadays the women wear them more as accessory. It is believed that the longer their neck, the more beautiful they are.

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