The northern part of Thailand is home to a number of traditional hilltribes where the villagers follow their own unique traditions. The Karen hilltribe, which is also known as the Long Neck hilltribe, is one of the most vibrant of these ethnic groups and can be found in the very north of Thailand. Special Thailand tour packages take visitors to visit the Long Necked tribes and this is an experience that visitors will never forget.
The Karen tribe originally lived in the hills of Burma and cam to northern Thailand more than a century ago. The tribe gets their nickname of Long Neck from the elongated necks of the female tribe members. These long necks are created over a period of several years due to a series of brass rings that the women wear around their necks when they are children. These brass rings are very heavy and slowly make the neck stretch. As the neck stretches, more and more rings are added to the collection and older tribes women can be seen wearing more than a dozen of brass ring around their necks.
Each of these brass rings weighs around ten pounds and getting used to this extra weight can take younger children a long time. Karen girls are fitted with their first neck ring as early as four years old and the rings are designed to coil around the neck and be flexible enough to expand slightly as the girl grows older. However, because of the crushing weight of these brass rings they can never be removed, as the neck is so fragile that without the support of the brass rings their neck will break.
The remote location of the hilltribe villages has allowed the tribes people to retain their diverse culture over the years. While the men of the village traditionally work in the field growing crops, the women create handicrafts such as clothes, shoes and hats. The fabric that the tribes women weave is very colourful and features its own unique patterns which helps people from different tribes to identify each other.
The Karen people have a strong sense of community and all of the members of the same village act as an extended family. In the evenings after a long day of work they often gather to tell stories about their history and sing traditional folk songs. This is a good way of making sure that these traditional songs and stories are passed down from generation to generation and do not become lost.
Many of the Karen villages are nestled deep in the forests of northern Thailand. Many of the tribes do not have electricity and prefer to preserve their traditional way of life. most tasks in the village as done by hand and the villagers are almost completely self sufficient, eating only what they have grown themselves.
People who are looking for interesting places to visit in Thailand are sure to visiting the Long Neck hilltribes. These tours often include other activities such as trekking through the jungle and sailing along the river on a bamboo raft. Visitors are often given the chance to stay in one of the villages overnight so that they can get a real feel for the history and culture of these unique people and can an unforgettable insight into their way of life.
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