Long Neck Women, Chiang Mai
These women look so beautiful in their traditional costumes and they have special accessories to further enhance their uniqueness and beauty. It was such a pleasure to have the opportunity to have my photograph taken with them. ^_^
A trip to the hill tribes villages is a must if you are looking to see something unique. The long-necked woman are members of a tribe in which brass coils are attached to their neck after they turn 5 years old. The male members of the tribe do not have to wear these coils and what we were told was that the longer the neck the more beautiful you become.
I came here, wherever it was, as part of a long-necked tribe daytrip I did from Chiang Mai. We arrived after visiting an orchid farm and riding elephant at the Chok Chai Elephant Camp but things just seemed to be very touristy with lots of souvenir stalls selling tribal arts and crafts and jewellery items. The girls here come from several different tribes but the main one is the famous long-necked Karen tribe so we did the obligatory photo opportunities and I bought a hand-made wooden women figure. Behind the stalls are a few wooden/bamboo houses which were being lived in and indeed the girls were busy doing daily jobs whilst being dressed in traditional tribal clothes but it still seemed to me to be a show for tourists.
During my trip to Chiangmai, I made a visit to the Karen tribal village. This tribal village, home to the long neck tribe, is actually a village for tourists. The Karen women are accomodated in this village by the Thai authorities and they earn money by selling handicraft and trinklets and receiving tips from tourists for photo-taking. The women put on these copper rings around their necks from young. The copper rings are worn throughout the day, even during sleep. The purpose of wearing the copper rings is to protect their necks from being bitten by wild animal predators like lions and tigers. The only time when the rings are taken off is during pregnancy or when they are sick.
Originally, the women would don a set of rings around their necks to protect them from tigers that would go for the kill. Now, more decorative than anything, over the course of their lifetime, these women will slowly add ring after ring until their necks are 4~5 times longer.
The trip to the Long-neck village was high point of our trip. It's not for the elderly or handicapped though. It is a very narrow path winding its way into a valley where the long neck people live. Then, there is the even more difficult trek back out of the valley. Definitely a difficult trek for those out of shape. Well worth it if you're up to it. Great photo ops with long neck women and children. Of course, lots of souvenirs to be bought too.
It is amazing how these women and young girls can carry out their daily acitivities while having these coils around their neck. The coils weigh a hefty 4 kg which is about 12 pounds!
This is how the village looked as we arrived.
The bus stopped at the side of the road, then we walked into the forest for about 10 minutes.