Alien settlements are scattered high in the mountains, and their roots go deep in history. Ascetic conditions and remoteness from the modern world, contribute to the fact that from generation to generation, they keep customs and traditional way of life.
While some ethnic groups do not hurry in a hurry to merge with civilization, others try to extract maximum benefit from it. The latter include the Padangs, they are also Karen.
Partially migrated to Thailand, once from Burma, the Padangs settled tightly in the north of the country. Their settlements are mostly located in the border area of Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son. Communication with the outside world at Karen mutually beneficial and productive. The peculiar and bright custom of these people attracts tourists, and they, in turn, make it possible to earn and feed the family.
The Padaung attracts travelers with tradition to decorate the arms, legs, and most importantly, the necks of women with a spiral of numerous rings. The number of copper hoops can reach twenty or more. They begin to wear on girls from 5-6 years of age. Sharpening the neck into a metal spiral is a rather long process and an important role in it is played by the first stage, which is entrusted to knowledgeable women of the tribe.
First of all, the child’s neck is carefully smeared with a special ointment and massaged for several hours. After that, wear rings with pads enclosed under them, thereby, making the process less painful. Over time, the lining is removed, and the rings continue to be added once every two years. The procedure is repeated again and again until the woman gets married. As a result, the entire neck, the owners of the rings, is covered with shiny spirals.
The neck of the women of the tribe seems unnaturally long. And therefore, you can often hear the opinion that if you remove the rings from her, she will not be able to hold the weight of the head. But this is unlikely. In fact, due to the spirals, the pressure is created on the collarbone and that, sagging, creates the illusion of a long neck. The length of the latter remains unchanged. And if you remove the ring, then the main disadvantage for a woman is more likely to be a deformed clavicle.
Today, some padangos honor tradition as a way of self-identification, while others cherish it because of the keen interest of tourists. At the same time, to satisfy the existing demand, they make sure that the number of “ringed” girls does not decrease.
According to the logic, the “rings” should have a reason why women began to wear unusual jewelry. But today it remains unknown. Although the options are voiced different and perhaps among them, there is still the truth. For example, it is believed that this was a way to protect women from slavers. There is also a version that in this way it was possible to escape from the powerful tiger tusks. The first and second reasons were a serious threat to the small homeland of the Padaung. But there are other versions – like that, such an ornament was a symbol of beauty, status and wealth, or that only the girls born on the full moon could wear rings.
One of the legends tells a beautiful story about the love of the wind to the dragon. When news of the dragon’s pregnancy, the wind swirled furiously around his beloved. And circled until she bore. Maybe it is in honor of these dancing hugs that the women of the tribe wear a unique symbol of love around their necks.
Padang, nice and friendly people. They greet countless guests, smiling shyly at the cameras and patiently answering questions. But the flow of tourists every year grows and grows, gradually changing the atmosphere of the settlements. And who knows how long these smiling, affable people will be able to maintain their tact and dignity under the onslaught of a shameless civilization.