Amazing Vintage Photos of Burmese Women Visiting London in 1935

The Kayan Lahwi people, also known as Padaung, are a minority ethnic group with populations in Burma and Thailand. Padaung women are famous for their distinctive custom of wearing brass coils around their necks. As the women grow, the coils are lengthened, compressing the rib cage and displacing the collarbone, creating the illusion of an extremely long neck.

In the 1930s, circuses and sideshows were tremendously popular in the United Kingdom. Padaung women, advertised as “giraffe women,” were star attractions, drawing crowds of curious gawkers. Below are some of vintage photographs of Paduang women when they visited London in 1935.

A policeman directs three Padaung women along Elgin Avenue in London.
Padaung women with a Grenadier guard at Horse Guard’s Parade, London.
Three Burmese women members of a circus play cards as they wear the brass neck and leg rings traditionally worn by Padaung women since childhood and which cannot be removed, London, January 4, 1935.
Doctors examine Padaung woman Mu Proa working for the Bertram Mills Circus in London.
Padaung women wave at Londoners upon their arrival at Victoria Station.
Paduang women arrive by train.
Mu Proa with her newborn child.
Mu sits up in bed with her baby.
Mu Proa with her child.
Mu talks to a police officer with her baby.
25th August 1936: A Burmese woman, with traditional neck-extending rings, celebrates her twenty-first birthday with a cake in Folkestone with her friend. They are both part of Bertram Mills Circus, where they are billed as the ‘giraffe-necked Burmese ladies’.

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