Long Neck people are originating in the Shan State in Burma is a Union of Myanmar these unique people are a small minority of the Karennin or Red Karen people of Burma and they are have also In Northern Thailand. They are from Padaung tribe synonym Kayan tribe and this tribe has today a number about 50. 000 persons. “Kayan Lahwi” is developed as a combination of Kayan by slash and burn and Lawi tribe by neck rings from Laos and North Thailand. Padaung (Yan Pa Doung) is a Shan term for the Kayan Lahwi (the group whose women wear the brass neck coils).
The Kayan resident in Mae Hong Son Province in Northern Thailand refer to themselves as Kayan and object to being called Padaung. In The Hardy Padaungs (1967) Khin Maung Nyunt, one of the first authors to use the term “Kayan”, says that the Padaung prefer to be called Kayan. In the late 1980s and early 1990s due to conflict with the military regime in Burma, many Kayan tribes fled to the Thai border area. The Thai government has granted them refugee status, but they are allowed to live only in certain areas.
Villages displaying Padaung women with brass neck coils for tourist dollars appeared. There are three Kayan villages in Mae Hong Son province in Thailand. The largest is Huay Pu Keng, on the Pai river, close to the Thai Burma border. Huai Seau Tao is a commercial village opened in 1995. Many of the residents of Nai Soi Kayan Tayar moved into the Karenni refugee camp in September 2008, but a few families remain there. Most of the Kayan people in Mae Hong Son are formerly from nine villages in Karenni State.
The majority are from Rwan Khu and Daw Kee village. The people of Huay Pu Keng are mainly from Lay Mile village. Women of the various Kayan tribes identify themselves by their different form of dress. The Kayan Lahwi tribe are the most renowned as they wear ornaments known as neck rings, brass coils that are placed around the neck. These coils were first apple to young girls when they are around five years old. Each coil is replaced with longer coil, 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 lengthen the illusion of a stretched neck is created by the deformation of the clavicle. Many ideas regarding why the coils have been suggested, often formed by visiting anthropologists, who have hypothesized that the rings protected women from becoming slaves by making them less attractive to other tribes. Contrastingly it has been theoried that the coils originate from the desire to look more attractive by exaggerating sexual dimorphism, as women have more slender necks than men.
It has also suggested that the coils give the women resemblance to a dragon, an important figure in Kayan folklore. The coils may be mean to protect from tiger bites, perhaps literally, but probably symbolically. Many women have removed the rings for medical examinations. Most women prefer to wear the rings once their necks were elongate, as their necks and collars bone are often bruised and discolored from being hidden behind brass for so long. Additionally, the collar feels like an integral part of the body after ten or more years of continuous wear.
The kayan appear to be Mongolian in origin, and they have their own distinct language and cultural traditions. Many of them follow an animist religion, although some also integrate Buddhist beliefs into their religious practices. The Kayans’ traditional religion is called Kan Khwan, and has been practiced since the people migrated from Mongolia during the Bronze Age. It includes the belief that the Kayan people are the result of a union between a female dragon and a male human/angel hybrid.
The major religious festival is the 3-day Kay Htein Bo festival, which commemorates the belief that the creator god gave form to the world by planting a small post in the ground. During this festival, held in late March or early April, a Kay Htoe Boe pole is erected and participants dance around the pole. This festival is held to venerate the eternal god and creator messengers, to give thanks for blessings during the year, to appeal for forgiveness, and pray for rain. It is also an opportunity for Kayan from different villages to come together to maintain the solidarity of the tribe.
The Kayan have a strong belief in augury and nothing is done without reference to some form of divination, including breaking thatch grass, but most importantly consulting the chicken bones. In present times the annual Kay Htein Bo festival is always accompanied by a reading of the chicken bones to predict the year ahead. Fowl bone prognostication can be witnessed in the Kayan villages in Thailand’s Mae Hong Son province during the annual festival and during “Cleansing Ceremonies” which are held when a family has encountered ill fortune. Dreams are also used to make predictions.
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