Padaung woman

Cycle: Masks
The Padaung women's story is a never-ending struggle for freedom. In the 1980s, they fled their native Burma to escape the brutal regime.

Technique: Acrylic on canvas

Dimensions: 40x30 cm, 15x12 in


They sought refuge in Thailand's refugee camps, but due to public interest in their culture, they were relocated to special villages. Many local businessmen have begun to promote the women's villages as a tourist attraction in the country's northwestern region. They attract over 400,000 tourists each year.

Metal hoops are 5 kg in weight. They are put on girls as young as five years old and remain on them until they reach their full height. They crush their clavicles and deform their ribs throughout their lives, creating the optical illusion of an elongated neck. Women are paid a few baht per month or a bag of rice for wearing the hoops. It's not much, but it's better than starving like the other Burmese refugees.

Padaung women have become, in a sense, hostages to their hoops; despite meeting all of the requirements, they are frequently prevented from leaving villages because, with so much tourist interest, they provide a very good source of income for the authorities.

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