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Padaung tribe: The female giraffes or women of long neck

Padaung tribe is often known for their long neck or giraffe, particularly their women. But why do their women forced to wear the jewelry that stretches their neck?

One of the brightest representatives of Asia is the Padaung tribe. They inhabit the state of Kayah, in eastern Myanmar, mainly in the highlands, but sometimes gather around the provincial town of Loikaw, close to the border with Thailand.

The main treasure of any country is its people. In this respect, Myanmar, especially it is the eastern part, with its rich culture and diverse ethnic minorities, stands out from other states’ backgrounds.

Although the Padaungs are a Mongolian tribe assimilated into the Karen group, they consist of 50 thousand people; they are of great interest due to their stretching their necks. The custom makes a deep impression on the guests and the women of the tribe; the number and value of rings are an indicator of respect and status.

Padaung tribe
Padaung tribal women

The first rings (in fact, these are spirals) for girls of the Padaung tribe are worn at 5-6 years. The day should be suitable; the shaman chooses it, having previously performed the ceremony and establishing the stars’ location. The girls’ necks are thoroughly lubricated with ointment and massaged for several hours, after which the shaman places small pillows under the first rings (spiral turns).

They are often made of bronze to prevent skin irritation, and the pillows remove over time. Every couple of years, one ring is added to the woman, and so on until she reaches marriageable age. For some girls, the number of rounds reaches 20, while their weight is about 5 kilograms.

But why do women wear such “jewelry”?

Padaung tribe
©Pinterest – Padaung tribe with jewery that make her neck long

Some say that the rings wore to protect themselves from tiger bites. Others associate this tradition with restricting women’s freedom, and some argue that precious metals store in the family in this way.

Unlike conventional accessories, these rings can only remove with significant consequences. Treason among Padaung women has always been punished by removing the rings – a sad fate worse than death. This is a cruel punishment, as the cervical vertebrae become deformed after years of wearing and the neck muscles atrophy.

For this mistake, a woman will have to spend the rest of her life lying; otherwise, she will face a broken neck or death from asphyxia. It is rare these days, as the top of the rings does not reach the chin, creating a little headspace.

women of Padaung tribe
©Pinterest – Padaung tribe

Onyinye A.

Onyinye Abasim, from Nigeria. I'm a biochemist, content writer, and an entrepreneur. Email: Onyii@afrinik.com

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