The Kayan Tribe is a Tibetan-Burman ethnic minority located in Myanmar. They are popularly famous as the Long Neck Tribe.Women of the Kayan Tribe wear long coiled brass wires around their neck in order to lengthen their neck. Wearing these tightly coiled up, heavy weight brass wires is no joke as it could lead to distortion of the clavicle which can possibly endanger lives leading to fatality in some cases.
The girls are made to wear these coils from the age of 5 and they cannot remove it until they die. More coils are added on, as they grow older. The woman with the longest neck is considered to be the prettiest among the tribals and the best prospect for marriage. They have also been featured as the “giraffe neck tribe” on several occasions.
There are many interpretations revolving around this age old custom. One of them says, that many men from outside the tribe would come and marry the women in the Kayan Tribe due to their attractive features. The local men of the Kayan Tribe would not be left with any eligible prospects to marry, therefore they started making the women wear these coils in their neck, so that outside men would not find them attractive any longer. As a reward, the woman with the longest neck would get to marry the King of the Tribe. Gradually, the tribe started truly believing that women with longer necks are prettier than the rest of the women.
The other interpretation says that, they were made to wear these coils to prevent the women from being taken as slaves, as they would be less attractive to the buyers. The other theory states that it was done on intention to make a stark difference between the two genders, as women should have more slender necks than the males, so they could be differentiated on an exaggerated physical attribute.Another interpretation suggests that, the Kayan tribe also believes in the dragon and worships it, so maybe they wanted the women to resemble the features of a dragon. And lastly, it is believed that the women wore brass coils to protect themselves from tiger bites.(don’t know how that would help though,let me know below in the comments section if you figure it out)
Going totally off topic with this, don’t you feel that we assume there is always a pre conceived notion about what our society finds pretty on a woman and we all go after it obsessively to fit the bill. Like in a world full of Kardashians, having the perfect body and contoured features drives many women to go under the knife because they want to attain that assumed beauty which will give them confidence. We get blinded by what other people have and do not even really know if we want it for ourselves or find it attractive. But we just go ahead with it no matter how dangerous a surgery could be, just because everyone else thinks it’s the definition of “beautiful”.Well, same goes for the Kayan Tribe, that has a pre concieved notion of beauty which one of us may not find attractive. But it’s what their definition of beauty is and how their children are moulded to believe in this age old dangerous tradition, even though it leaves their necks bruised and discolored.
The tribe is now poverty striken and reduced only to a handful of men and women. These women are a delight to meet and interact with. They are extremely warm and hospitable and have their own stalls with hand woven purses, bedsheets, crafts that they sell to the tourists to earn some money. They also have brass coils for the tourists to buy as a memento of having visited the long neck tribe. Their major source of income is tourists that buy their arts and crafts. When you sit with them and talk to them, you realise that away from all the city hustle bustle, there is a minority, a little like you, but they are still untouched by technology and so unaware of politics,corruption,pollution,crime,contouring and Kardashians. They are shy and extremely talented. They lead simple lives, follow age old customs and are very authentic to their roots.