The Long-Neck Women
A Tradition in Myanmar

This is the backstory. On each of my three trips to Myanmar, I have seen long-neck women. Some refer to these women as giraffes. It has always troubled me, but I rarely mentioned to my family. It would have faded in my memory until I returned during winter break this past year. I wrote to Moh Moh before returning that I wanted to go on tour with my family. I mentioned a couple of places that I had been in the past like Bagan, Mt. Popa, and Inle Lake, which I wanted to see again. However, I wanted Moh Moh and Ko Ko, her husband, to pick places that I would be interested in visiting and often not visited by other foreign tourists.

Loikaw was the first place that Moh Moh mentioned. It is in Kayah State. I’m sure Ko Ko was the one that picked an elephant ride that I took with my granddaughters. The elephant farm was called Shan Yoo Ma. Riding an elephant was quite exciting. I felt like I was Hannibal crossing the Alps in Myanmar. The following photo is of my three granddaughters and me beginning our long and arduous journey. I wasn’t sure that we would return alive.

We also went to Pan Pet village, which had many of the long-neck women. We also went to the Ngwe Taung Dam where my family and I dressed up in traditional local garb. We attempted to look like Pa Daung women. Ko Ko said that he couldn’t dress up with us, because he needed to take pictures of Moh Moh, the girls, and me.

You can tell that I was excited about dressing up, but everyone else was really excited. The term long-neck or long-necked women is not quite an accurate term. While the neck appears longer, it is because the brass neck rings put pressure on the collarbone and four or five thoracis vertebrae of the neck. This results it appear that the neck is eight to twelve inches longer due to bearing down on the collarbone, which compresses the rib cage. The weight of the brass rings can be as heavy as twenty-five pounds.

A long-neck woman

I know more about the medical issues than the background of this tradition. Therefore, in preparation for this essay, I wrote to Ti Ti, my oldest granddaughter. This was reply.

Dear Papa Al,

How are you? I hope you are in the best of health. As for me, I'm fine.

About the PaDaung Ladies, there is only legendary stories that olden people told. There is no such history written. We assume that the PaDaung Ladies wear the Wang to beautify themselves with elongated necks. The story about the tiger goes like this.

Once, the PaDaung men in the village all goes hunting and farming once the light comes. So there were only women left in the village. One day, a tiger hunts the ladies in the village. So, the villagers make the ladies wear the rings around their necks to protect them from the tiger.

We can also see that the PaDaung houses have no or few windows and have long legs which will protect them from the tiger. Nevertheless, it is only the legend but not history.

In Taunggyi, some of the classes have started again.

Now I am joining karate class. In the meantime, I also join Japanese Class and Web Design Class as online classes. I heard that the exam results will be announced in next month. I hope I will get lots of distinctions. As for the University, I wanna join both the political science and computer science. My Japanese Teacher said if I join Computer science, she can join me to a Japanese company when I graduate. I would like some advice from you in choosing the right University.



To say that I am proud of Ti Ti would be an understatement. She is intelligent, charming, caring, and fun to be with. As for the legend of the long-neck women, she presented the legend very nicely. However, the actual history is problematic. The tradition of wearing the brass rings had to do with what men thought was attractive. Men tell women in the States what men want them to wear, etc. The same is true regarding Pa Daung women. Some younger women wish to break with tradition. However, the tradition creates income for the women, which makes it difficult to remove the rings.

These are two videos about the long-neck tradition: