March 8, 2011 / Featured articles / 0 comments
Padaung or Kayan Lahwi is a group of the Karenni people, a Tibeto-Burman ethnic minority of Burma. Women start wearing the brass neck coils at the age of five. Each coil is replaced with longer coils as the weight of the brass pushes the collar bone down and compresses the rib cage. Contrary to popular belief, the neck is not actually lengthened; the illusion of a stretched neck is created by the deformation of the clavicle. Many ideas regarding why the coils are worn have been suggested. One of them is the coils might be meant to protect from tiger bites. Kayan women, when asked, acknowledge these ideas, but often say that their purpose for wearing the rings is cultural identity (one associated with beauty).