LONG NECK WOMEN

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  • 6_0_728_1ln14web.jpg
  • nwebLN6web.jpg
  • 7_0_729_1ln15web.jpg
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  • nwebLN11web.jpg
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I had the opportunity to spend some time with the woman and young girls. They are amazing, giving and hard working people. They had given me the small coil that the young girls are given when it's first put on. I was shocked... It was heavy and to think this was just the beginners version of the coil. As they grow older not only does it get replaced with a bigger one, but rings are placed also around their wrist and ankles as you will see in one of the images of an elder woman. Here is a little information about the tribe.

Women of the Kayan tribes identify themselves by their forms of dress. Women of the Kayan Lahwi tribe are well known for wearing neck rings, brass coils that are placed around the neck, appearing to lengthen it. The women wearing these coils are known as "giraffe women" to tourists.

Girls first start to wear rings when they are around 5 years old. Over the years the coil is replaced by a longer one and more turns are added. The weight of the brass pushes the collar bone down and compresses the rib cage. The neck itself is not lengthened; the appearance of a stretched neck is created by the deformation of the clavicle. Many ideas regarding why the coils are worn have been suggested, often formed by visiting anthropologist, who have hypothesized that the rings protected women from becoming slaves by making them less attractive to other tribes. It has also been theorised 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 been suggested that the coils give the women resemblance to a dragon, an important figure in Kayan folklore. The coils might be meant to protect from tiger bites, perhaps literally, but probably symbolically.

Kayan women, when asked, acknowledge these ideas, and often say that their purpose for wearing the rings is cultural identity (one associated with beauty).

© 2016 Jodi Champagne

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