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    We are Short Necks

    February 2nd, 2008 by mary

    When we got to the village we were told the first souvenir booths were of the short neck people so we should walk without stopping until we get to the long neck tribe. Yes, we were part of the short necks. The road was muddy and slippery and completely lined with souvenir stalls on both sides so that you didn’t see the villages right behind them. The women were sitting at their shops making scarves. Many of the people on display were young girls. They were quiet and seemed not to mind the attention of the cameras and people that would crowd around them. They would pause and smile for the photos then get right back to their threading like seasoned veterans. Many of the faces were painted in addition to make-up. No one seems to know why they started doing this practice of lengthening the girls’ necks but the three prominent stories are
    1. because tigers bite necks (but then why don’t the men do it?)
    2. to make them ugly because the ruler could pluck any girl he chose
    3. as a beautification that makes them look more like a swan.
    Yes, the last two contradict but so goes theories. I asked Ren if the girls thought it was pretty and his answer after a hesitation was that he thinks they do it for the business. Otherwise no one would come up here. And inside their straw huts were portable DVD players so it shows it definitely pays off. One old woman had the solid brass rings off her neck which I was surprised by because I had thought that they couldn’t survive long after taken the rings off because of a lack of support. But it seems they can live with their extruded necks bare. The girls start the process at 5yrs old and put on progressively taller rings until their late teens. Thus taking advantage of the growing years. They definitely moved about with a stiff neck, like someone wearing a brace.

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