Padong or Long Necks Karen.
According to the physiology feature of Karen-Padaung (Long Necked) you can see that they have stemmed from Southern Mongoloids. But if you consider deliberately from their culture, and social features, you will be able to specify that the Padaung is a group of Karen living on the plateau area, sloped down to be steps above the Salween River in Kayah state of Myanmar near the North of the Thai border. The total population is approximately 30,000 people. The Padong love to stay peaceful and hard working. If compare the life of living of the Padong with the Karen in Thailand, they are both alike. The main works of them are growing rice on the steps rice field and the circulative rice field. The other cultivated plants are cotton, tobacco, vegetables, and fruits. The Padong’s house generally is made of Teak wood, and Bamboo with an elephant grass roof, raises the ground high and has a ladder that reaches to the premises. Inside the house normally has provided the place to put a stove; there is a mattress for the bed, cooking utensils, and some other valuable things. The Padong always keep the pets around the area and space under the house. Most of the Padong believe in Catholicism, but, anyway, some of them still believe in Buddhism together with ghost and soul.
The one prominent tradition of wearing one winding brass ring around the neck begins since the Padong have the age of 5-9. In the former time the Padong who needed to wear the rings had to be the ones who were born on Wednesday and with the full moon day only, besides they had to be also the original Padong women without mixing with any other tribes. But later it became the popular tradition among all Padong women who were born on any day. The rings formerly were made of gold, but nowadays they are made of brass instead. The special features of the rings are solid, 1/3 inches diameter. Seeing that the hollow brass cannot be made to be the beautiful rings, the solid brass has been used since then. The Padong who wear the rings have to be skillful in bending the brass; otherwise, it will hurt themselves. Before wearing, the brass must be dipped into the lemonade to make it soft, and then roll it into a coil up around the neck which is as same as a coil spring.
The majority of people say that the reasons for Padong women to wear the rings are to show their beauty, class status and position. But the other important reason is to protect marriage over the tribe. We can see the difference between all the hill tribes in Myanmar from the women’s typical costumes. Each tribe of women dresses in their own different ways; some tribes make themselves more different than others by making tattoos on their bodies in order to avoid attraction from others outside the tribes. Moreover, there are still two ancient stories that mention the reasons for wearing the rings: the first one told that in ancient times the ghost and the soul felt dissatisfied; the Padong group then sent the tiger to bite them all. The ancestor of Padong worried about losing all Padong women in the meantime, finally, they found a way to solve the problem by asking all Padong women to wear the rings in order to protect them from the tiger. The second story said that in the past the Padong’s parents were a dragon and a swan. This reason makes them need to wear the rings in order to have a beautiful long neck in dignified and handsome movement, and also suitable for them to be the heirs of a dragon and a swan.
The Padong in Mae Hong Son, Thailand
The Padong, in Mae Hong Son, Thailand, have been evacuated from the war and entering to Mae Hong Son in the years 1895-1896. They settle in their village along the Thai-Burma border. They still maintain the unique symbols of their life style of living which include their traditions and the cultures to attract all the tourists to come and visit them. Therefore, this is the best way for them to bring into their main income.