The Padaung Hilltribes are a a sub-group of the Karen Hilltribes that inhabit Myanmar (Burma) and the mountainous regions of northern Thailand. The Karen people are best known for their tradition of beautifying the women of the tribe in very special ways. Among the most famous of these hilltribes, is the long-neck Karen tribe who are found close the the Myanmar-Thailand border.
The long-neck Karen women wear a spiral of heavy metal rings around their necks, which every year more rings are added to. The long-neck Karens believe that the more rings a women has around her neck, the more beautiful she is. The metal rings push down on the womens shoulders making their necks look naturally longer.
This long-neck Karen tradition is thought to have derived from an ancient Padaung Hilltribe tale, where a women goes down to the river and taints the villages water supply. The tale goes that to pay for her wicked ways, the women was killed by a tiger that bit her around the neck. This is the supposed origin of this old tribal tradition.
The long-neck Karen women now wear the metal rings around their necks to protect themselves from the threat of tigers. The men from this tribe are thought to not have them as the men are the hunters for the tribe and therefore naturally carry weapons which they can use to defend themselves.
Karen Tribe Village
If you would like to learn more about the traditions of the long-neck Karen, please follow the links below for more information.