Kayans, long neck tribe. Chiangmai, Thailand.

Kayan long neck tribesDue to the civil war between Karenni separatists and the Burmese army two decades ago, Thailand granted Burmese refugees to reside in Northern Thailand. This brought in the Kayans population from Myanmar. To date, there are only 130,000 Kayans living in both Myanmar and Thailand.

Controlled by the Thai Government, The Kayans, also known as Karen long neck tribe resides in a managed tourism village near the Elephant Camp in Chiangmai, where men work with the elephants and women work in the village selling souvenirs and handcrafts. Some of them weave shawls for a living and perform for the tourists.

The term “long neck” is specifically refered to the golden coils the Kayan wear on their neck, making their necks look longer than a normal person. Female Kayans start wearing the golden coil when they’re 4-5 years old and adding on about 2cm annually till they leave the world. Legend has it the coil is used as a protection from tigers, which normally attack humans on the neck in the jungle.

Though seeing the Kayans in a controlled environment does not reflect the real cultures and traditions, it provides a basic understanding of how they live and work
with the heavy golden coils on their necks.



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