Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Burden of Beauty

From the age of five, young girls’ necks are wrapped in brass coils, pushing the collar bone down and collapsing the lungs, so that by the time they are teens, their necks appear to be elongated.
The reality is, that the appearance of a longer neck is a visual illusion. The weight of the brass rings has over the years pushed down and deformed the collar bone plus the upper ribs, to such an effect that the collar bone appears to be part of the neck.

copyrighted by Johan Van Roekeghem

The origin of the ring-wearing ritual in the Padaung hill tribes remains unclear. Padaung hill tribe mythology says that the mother of all Padaung`s was half woman, half dragon, with a long, beautiful neck, and that their unique custom is a tribute to the mother-dragon.

Paduang legends say that it is done to prevent tigers from biting their neck when roving in the jungle. It is also claimed that it was used to make the women look unattractive so that other tribes would not capture them and sell as slaves.
The most common and also most acceptable explanation, is just the opposite: An extra long neck for a woman was considered a sign of great beauty and the brass a sign of good wealth, this in turn would attract more men, so to have a bigger choice to select a husband.

                       Showing scars from the heavy weight

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