Banakas | Photography

Karen Long Neck Tribe

Karen Long Neck Tribe

The people from the long neck tribe are refugees from Burma who were accepted and supported by the Thai government for the tourist money they bring in. They are not allowed to go outside of the refugee camp. They are meant to live and work there, only in that small village, for the rest of their lives. A way to actually help these people is to buy souvenirs directly from them.

The handicrafts bought here can also be found in other markets in Chiang Mai. The real attraction is the women and their long necks. On our visit, we noticed how peaceful they looked. They sat on their stalls quietly, smile to the tourists and engage you in a small talk with their basic English when you show interest to buy.

Why the long neck?

The women wear brass copper metals coiled up at their necks that eventually elongates them. They wear the brass metal coils because based on a legend ages ago, it was believed that tigers would come to the village and attack the people. The way to protect the women is to put these brass copper rings around their neck. Since then it has become a tradition and the women would wear these rings as early as 5 years of age.

Nowadays the women wear them more as accessory. It is believed that the longer their neck, the more beautiful they are. The women wear long and heavy brass rings around their neck all day all throughout the year, with a few exceptions. On some occasions they remove it when they are pregnant and when they are sick.

Categories: Other Places

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