The illusion of the long neck


I came across a humor blog few weeks back and the humorist showed a photo or two of peoples, particularly of women having long necks. At first sight that seemed funny, but I knew it goes deeper than that.

By following Jewel in the palace community I read some phrases about “long-necked beauty”. So was it for that reason that those women have long necks, for beauty?

Burma-Thailand borderI have not traveled and met with them actually, I just found some interesting things. I believe there are also some small tribes in Africa (women of Ndebele), but the group of people some labeled as the “long-neck” or “giraffe” tribe, signifying the very old tradition and practice of adorning their women with rings around the neck, are called Karen Padaung, a tiny sub-group of the larger Karen people, natives of Burma who have long been caught up in a civil war against the government, and found refuge in artificial tourist villages in Thailand who were accepted by the Thai government for the tourist money they bring in, which also supports them. They sat on display at a Bangkok tourism fair, helping to create the buzz that would draw visitors from around the globe who will be paying a heavy entrance fee to gawk at them. They prefer to be exploited for tourism, (anyway they seem to enjoy being photographed), than going back to their land in civil war.

Long neck womenIn the Mae Hong Sorn and Bann Thaton area in Thailand, the women of the Karen Padaung villages wear multiple brass spiral coils and rings around the neck, the arms and the legs, and use carved elephant tusk in the ears. This neck ring adornment is started when the girls are 5 or 6 years old and the neck grows longer as additional rings are added with each passing year. The rings on the neck reach from the clavicle up to beneath the chin, and these rings are always held very tightly by the bone structure from clavicle to chin. But the appearance of a longer neck is a visual illusion. The women’s necks are not actually stretched. The weight of the rings gradually pushed down the women’s collarbones, as well as the upper ribs, to such an angle that the collarbone actually appears to be a part of the neck, making an illusion of a long neck! For this tribe the rings are the most prominent sign of female beauty and status, and an extra-long neck is considered a sign of great beauty and wealth and that it will attract a better husband. But in this small tribe whose members marries within the group, adultery is low, A Karen Paduang Long Neck woman stands with her child in a forest near the border between Burma and Thailand in Southeast Asia. (National Geographic)long neck women well, since the punishment is removal of the brass neck ring, which over the years, weakened the neck muscles that women have to spend their life lying down for support. Each peoples, each cultures. There is always striking beauty and wonder in them that overwhelm our thoughts of fathoming them.