What is the name of the village?Huay Pu Keng.
It is sometimes referred to as Nam Piang Din, though this is the name of another village near the border.
The spelling of the village's name is somewhat fluid. Variations include:
Hway/Huey/Huay/Huei Pu Kaeng/Kang/Ket
Who are the villagers?The villagers are from Karenni State in Burma. The majority of the residents belong to one of two Karenni ethnic groups, the Kayan or the Kayaw.
Why is it called a long-neck village?The Kayan are often referred to as ‘long necks’ or Padaung because of the traditional brass coils worn by some of their women around their neck, making their necks look elongated.
The Kayaw are sometimes called ‘big ears’ because they traditionally stretch their ear lobes to accommodate a large brass earrings.
How does Huay Pu Keng relate to Nai Soi and Huay Sua Thao?The three villages are essentially similar.
Kayan Tayar, typically referred to as ‘Nai Soi’ is located near the Thai village of Nai Soi and next to a Karenni refugee camp.
Huay Sua Thao is located near Huay Pu Keng and is somewhat more commercial in nature.
How should I refer to the people?You should not call the Kayan either Padaung (this is a Shan term) or Long-Neck Karen. They refer to themselves as Kayan.
To distinguish Kayan who wear the rings with those that don’t you could simply refer to the ‘girls/women who wears the rings’. Most Kayan won’t be offended by the term ‘long neck’ and indeed they themselves use the terms ‘long’ and ‘short’ necks; however the term ‘giraffe woman’ is offensive.
The women with the stretched ear lobes are Kayaw.
What language do they speak?Predominantly they will speak their own Kayan or Kayaw language amongst themselves. At school they children are taught Karenni, Burmese and English. Some of the villagers have learnt to speak Thai. A few will know basic phrases in other languages.
What is their livelihood?In Burma the majority were farmers. In Thailand they are reliant on tourists for income. Most of their income is generated from selling their woven scarves and bags to visitors.
Where did the tradition of Kayan wearing rings originate?There are several theories. See here for details. That they are worn to protect from Tiger bites is FALSE.
Why do they wear the rings?To preserve their culture and to generate revenue.
Is it painful to wear the rings?They are certainly heavy, weighing several kilos. There may be some discomfort from the rings rubbing against the skin and they often protect their chin or shoulders with small napkins or towels. The tight knee rings affect circulation and cause some discomfort.
Do the rings restrict movement?Despite their weight the impact on movement is minimal. Many girls who wear the rings play volleyball regularly.
Can the rings be removed?Yes, though the process of both putting the rings on and taking them off is lengthy, taking several hours. Women who have chosen to remove the rings after several years report that they experienced some neck ache for about three days; others said that they initially felt “heavier”.
Do they take off the rings at night?
No, the rings are worn for extended periods of time, often in excess of a year.
Can I bring anything to give the village?
In addition to cash donations, recommended gifts for the school and the children are:
White board pens, permanent markers, toiletries (soap, toothpaste, washing powder), sports equipment, clothing, instant noodles (e.g. Ma-Ma noodles) and fruit.
At present (2009) the school has enough exercise books, pens, pencils and colours, however other stationary items are still welcome.
More visitor information here
<<<Back to Information