The Kayan women, of Kayah state, ‘stretch’ their necks with brass rings as an elongated neck is a sign of beauty in Kayan culture and have been nicknamed ‘giraffe’ women as a result.
While the brass coils make the women’s necks appear long, in reality the weight of the rings pushes down the muscles around the collarbone and compresses the rib cage – meaning their necks appear longer than they are.
Kayah state was until recently closed to outsiders, opening to tourists in 2014.
Women of the tribe wear a coil of brass rings around their necks from early age.
The village is very rural and bursting with character. Children run around naked or in colourful handmade clothes.
Some people think that without the rings, the neck would break but this is not true.
The people are laid back and welcoming. They are more than happy to discuss their way of living with a local guide who can translate for you.
In the past, neck rings had a protective role from wild tigers in the mountain territory. Women remained at home while men went hunting in the forest and sometimes wild animals would come to the village and attack people. If a tiger bit a woman’s or child’s neck, they could survive.
Women wear the neck rings to differentiate themselves from other minorities.
This is an excerpt from Youth Shades Magazine October 2017 Issue. Click here to read or download the magazine for free.