The Padaung (or "Long Necked Karens") are well-known from their ubiquitous photos. Less well-known is the mountainous area on Thailand's border where they come from.
Thailand has a smattering of ethnic minorities within its borders, Burma has quite a lot more, but nearby Yunnan in China has by far the most.
Kayah state in Burma, the home of the Long Neck Karens, is one of the most ethnically diverse places in Burma.
Wild, mountainous and sparsely populated, Kayah State shares a border with Thailand.
There is, however, no border town with a major border crossing like there is at Mae Sot in Tak province or MaeSai in Chiang Rai province.
Click button to listen to Padaung Tribal People and rightclick to download
Faces & PLACES: Eerie feeling by Peerawat Jariyasombat
At first the sight of this face propped against a backdrop of colourful strips of cloth sent a shiver down my spine. The brass rings made her neck look extra long, and for a moment the face, minus the body, seemed to hang in a void.
She was sitting behind a table stacked with ornaments. She is a Padaung woman, a Tibeto-Burman ethnic minority that migrated from Burma to Thailand's Mae Hong Son Province where to tourists such women are better known as the long-necked Karen.
Traditionally, Padaung women start wearing these rings when only five or six years old and keep adding as they grow up. Several theories are used to explain the origin of this tradition.
One says the rings protect them from attacks by tigers, another says they are meant to make women look weird to escape the attention of those looking to enslave them, and so forth. But whatever the reason, to the Padaung people the rings are a statement of fashion, their beauty and wealth.
(Source: Bangkok Post, Horizons travel section, Faces & PLACES, Eerie feeling, 2/12/2010, Peerawat Jariyasombat, link)
ethnic group - a group of people with the same culture and language, longer: "a group of people whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage, consisting of a common language, a common culture (often including a shared religion) and a tradition of common ancestry" กลุ่มชาติพันธุ์, กลุ่มชนที่มีเชื้อชาติเดียวกัน, เผ่าพันธุ์ (See Wikipedia)
culture - the set of ideas, beliefs, and ways of behaving of a certain group of people วัฒนธรรม (ethnic groups usually have their own old culture)
minority - a small percentage, less than 50% จำนวนน้อย
minority - of a part of a population that is different in race, religion or culture form most of the population ชนกลุ่มน้อย, คนกลุ่มน้อย
ethnic minority - ชนกลุ่มน้อยทางชาติพันธุ์
diverse - many different kinds or types of something
ethnically diverse - having many different ethnic groups in an area
border - the line that separates two countries (when you cross the line, you enter another country) เขตแดน
border town - a town located on the border of two countries (tourism and crime are often part of the reputation of these towns as it is for Tijuana on the US-Mexico border and Mae Sai in The Golden Triangle)
border crossing - an official place where people can legally leave one country and enter another
borderlands - the area between two countries or states
Long Necked Karens, Kayan Lahwi, Padaung - the famous ethnic group from the Mae Hong Son-Burma border area with women wearing metal rings around their neck as decoration (See Wikipedia)
Tibeto-Burman - several ethnic groups that have similar languages, Tibetan and Burmese are languages of whole countries or large regions, but most of these languages are of small tribal groups (See Wikipedia)
Kayah state - the state within Burma which borders on Mae Hong Son, Thailand (See Wikipedia)
smattering - a small amount of something
ubiquitous - found everywhere
by far the most - more than all the others
sparse - existing in small amounts and separated or at a distance from others (not all in one place)
sparsely populated - in the area there are not many people and they area spread out and scattered
eerie - strange, mysterious and frightening, ghostly, spooky น่ากลัว, น่าขนลุก
prop - hold something in a position or hold something up, by leaning it against something or putting something under it
propped against - leaning on
backdrop - everything that you can see behind the main thing that you are looking at ฉากหลัง ภาพเบื้องหลัง
shiver - when the body shakes a little bit (because the person is cold or frightened), tremble ตัวสั่น
spine - backbone กระดูกสันหลัง
sent a shiver down my spine - the person's body shivered starting from the top and going to the bottom
brass - a metal made by mixing together the metals copper and zinc
long - to want something very much ต้องการ ปรารถนา
moment - a very short period of time; a particular time or occasionชั่วขณะ, โอกาสสำคัญ
stack (noun) - a pile, one thing on top of another thing on top of another thing and so on
stacked (adjective) - in a pile, with one thing put on top of another thing, one after another...
ornament - a small attractive object used for decoration เครื่องประดับประดา
migrate - to move from one place to another place to live and work อพยพ
tradition (noun) - custom, an old way of doing things in a culture ประเพณี, ธรรมเนียม,
traditional (adjective) - following the old way of doing things in a culture
traditionally (adverb) - done according to the old way of doing things in a culture
theory - ideas that explain why or how something happens ทฤษฎี
origin - where something comes from
weird - very strange แปลกประหลาด
attention - interest in ความสนใจ
escape the attention - not see and become interested in
slave - a person owned by another person, without basic freedoms
enslave - to make a person into a slave
and so forth - continuing in the same way (we have just did)
reason - an explanation of an event, why an event happened เหตุ ; เหตุผล ; สาเหตุ
wealth - how much money and assets a person or country owns
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