sights uncovered
Travel with Tessa

Women Of The World – Myanmar

The Kayan Lahwi minority tribe. The Kayan are commonly called the Padaung, a Shan word meaning: ‘Lady with the long neck.’ Young girls begin wearing brass coils around their necks at around eight years old. More coils are added as they age and are rarely removed, which results in the lengthening of the woman’s neck. Brass coils are also worn on the legs and wrists. The Kayan Lahwi are expert weavers.


The ‘Five Day Market’ in Phaung Daw Oo on Inle Lake. Pa’O women wear long swaths of brightly colored fabric skillfully wrapped around their heads to form a loose turban, and woven satchels slung across their chests.


This young girl is a member of the Kachin tribe who inhabit the villages in the Kachin hills of Northern Myanmar.


Young nuns wearing pale pink robes and cinnamon shawls, leaving a temple in Mandalay.


Cigar making is women’s work in Myanmar. Here a young woman (her face covered in Thanaka paste (a natural sunscreen) prepares cigars for sale.


In the bamboo forests surrounding Indein Village, an elderly woman takes a break from her task of stripping bamboo stalks and relaxes with while smoking a cigar.


In a teensy-tiny village on the outskirts of Bagan, we were invited into the home of this eighty-five year old lady for tea and snacks. When tea was over, she pulled out her cigar making equipment and began rolling cigars in dried corn leaves. I’ve never been a smoker but couldn’t turn down the offer to try her homemade cigars.


The national costume of women in Myanmar is the ‘longyi.’ A wrap around, ankle length, patterned, piece of fabric with a solid color blouse that fits snugly at the waist. Sandals finish off the outfit.


A young girl in a village, eighty miles from Yangon, pairs her longyi with a Western style tee shirt and a wide brimmed plaited bamboo hat.


Hat seller outside the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda on Inle Lake.


Elderly villagers puff away at their cigars, while this innovative young woman carries her toddler in one basket and firewood in the other.


A touching scene. In the streets of Yangon the Plastic Bag Collector – her face covered in Thanaka paste made from dried bark – pauses to feed the pigeons.


At the Golden Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, I joined in the ritual of pouring water over the Buddha’s head is an act of self purification.