Today, I would like to tell you all the stories of the long-neck Padaung women in Myanmar. For those who have traveled to Inle and witnessed these women, this story is not very weird and strange. Once you take Myanmar tours to Inle Lake, you will have your own chance to meet them and ask them about their special custom with the weird long necks. Myanmar is a multi-tribe country with 135 ethnic tribes sharing the same territory. Coming to Myanmar, you should once experience the local ethnic life of Kayan or Padaung long neck tribes, the oldest tribe in Myanmar. They not only live in harmony with nature but also keep many unique customs until today including wearing many necklaces to have a longer neck.
Portrait of a Padaung woman
In the rural place of Myanmar, you will be surprised by the images of cherubic smiling women with long necks covered by many bronze laces. They said that they do this to make themselves uglier than others to avoid being human trafficking. Another legend tells that once upon a time, a tribe leader had a dream and foresaw that on a Wednesday when his daughter was given birth, a tiger came to attack the villages and break all their necks. Since then, he decided that all children born on Wednesday have to wear necklaces and the tiger didn’t come anymore and they believed that the necklaces bring the magic. This long neck tribe has about 7000 people nowadays. When the girls are at 5, they start to wear necklaces. The more laces are worn, the longer their necks are. A female adult may have up to 35 necklaces; they can’t take them off or their neck will be easily broken. The Padaung consider the longer neck they have, the more elegant they are. Unlike many women in the world, the Padaung long-neck women are happy with their special “fashion”. They not only wear necklaces but also bracelets but the most attractive point is always the long neck like giraffes.
Young girls in Myanmar with the traditional necklaces
This strange custom is kept until today and becomes a part of the Padaung long neck tribe in Inle Lake and other regions. Many women try to give birth on Wednesday and if it’s a daughter, she would be a “lucky Wednesday child”. The women never take the laces off because they become their essential part, as well as the skin under the laces, is not as beautiful as the others after a long time being covered. Especially, taking the laces off is a bad thing that is used as a punishment when a woman betrays her husband. Things are changing now and the long-neck tribe is now just an image of the past.