Necks of these women are not actually stretched – the weight of the brass pushes down the muscles around their collarbones and compresses their ribs.This makes their necks look longer than they actually are. It is unknown why the women originally started wearing the neck rings.Now they do so as it is considered beautiful and to preserve the tradition.
A full set of the neck rings can weigh as much as 10 kilos
These remarkable pictures show the ‘giraffe women’ of eastern Burma.
These Kayan women, from Kayah state, wear brass coils around their necks to give the impression that their necks are stretched.
Having a long neck is often seen as beautiful in Kayan culture.
While the neck rings make the women’s necks appear long, in reality, the weight of the coils pushes down the muscles around the collarbone and compresses the rib cage – meaning their necks appear longer than they are.
The women – who can start wearing the rings from the age of five – have a long piece of brass wound in a spiral around their necks.
The metal is wound manually by the women and, as brass is tough, this process can take many hours.
Now, most of the women wear the rings because they are seen as beautiful and to preserve the tradition.
However, when asked, most of the women will now say they wear them to preserve their cultural identities.
Kayan women are usually now given a choice as to whether or not they want to wear the neck rings.
Most of those who still do, do so because they see them as beautiful or because they want to preserve the tradition.
It is also likely that some wear them because they attract tourists who bring vital revenue to the community.