Painting of a Kayan giraffe woman

Large hand-painted portrait - Kayan woman with long neck

Kayan woman Painting by Frank Wagtmans
The giraffe woman Painting by Frank Wagtmans


Kayan woman Painting by Frank Wagtmans
Exclusive painting of a Kayan giraffe woman completely hand painted by Frank Wagtmans.


In this grand portrait, spanning a canvas of 200x150 cm, a traditional Kayan woman adorned with neck rings takes center stage. A fully hand-painted masterpiece, the artwork is meticulously crafted, incorporating strategic thick paint textures, creating a tactile and visually captivating experience. Constructed from numerous layers of acrylic paint, the canvas boasts a rich spectrum of colors, bringing the Kayan woman to life with vibrancy and depth.

The focal point of the painting is the Kayan woman, her neck adorned with rings, a practice deeply embedded in the cultural tapestry of the Kayan people. The intricacies of her facial features are brought to life with each brushstroke, capturing the essence of her identity and heritage. The thick paint structures, carefully applied, add a tactile quality to the portrait, allowing the viewer to almost feel the cultural significance imbued in the artwork.

The Kayan people, also known as the "Long Neck Karen," are an indigenous ethnic group residing in Southeast Asia, particularly in Myanmar and Thailand. One of their distinctive cultural practices is the tradition of neck elongation, achieved through the wearing of brass coils around the neck. This practice starts in childhood, with additional rings added as the individual ages, gradually elongating the neck.

For the Kayan, the neck rings are more than a form of body modification; they are symbols of beauty, identity, and cultural heritage. Contrary to popular belief, the appearance of an elongated neck is not due to the compression of the collarbone but rather the lowering of the shoulders. The practice is deeply intertwined with their sense of self and community, with each coil representing a rite of passage and a connection to ancestral traditions.

Beyond the distinctive neck rings, the Kayan people are known for their rich traditions in weaving, music, dance, and oral storytelling. Their cultural practices are rooted in a deep connection to nature and a profound sense of community. The patterns and colors in their traditional clothing often carry symbolic meanings, reflecting their beliefs and values.

In your painting, the Kayan woman becomes a living testament to the resilience and beauty of her culture. The canvas not only captures her individuality but also serves as a window into the intricate traditions and the timeless beauty of the Kayan people. The layers of paint mirror the layers of culture and history that make the Kayan community a vibrant and enduring part of our global heritage.


The painting process

Kayan woman Painting process - Frank Wagtmans
Kayan woman Painting process - Frank Wagtmans
Kayan woman Painting process - Frank Wagtmans
Kayan woman Painting process - Frank Wagtmans
Kayan woman Painting process - Frank Wagtmans
Kayan woman Painting process - Frank Wagtmans


Origin of the Kayan

The inhabitants of Kayan are found in Burma's largest city, Shan. They belong to the Red Karen ethnic minority group. In the late 1980s and early 1980s, they faced problems with Burma's military regime. This led to their flight to Thailand. Within the minority group there are several other groups like Kayan Lahwi, Kayan ka Khouang. Kayan Letha, etc. The best known group is Kayan Lahwi. Known for the tradition of the elongated neck and copper rings.

Mystery behind copper rings worn by the Kayan women

From the age of five, the Kayan women start wearing copper rings. The tradition is most common in Kayan Lahwi or women from Padong. With advancing age, the number of rings increases. Over time, the rings become an integral part of the body and women hardly remove them. They believe that it would be wrong to remove the rings. Only when longer spirals are needed or bruises on the collarbone have to be treated, the neck rings are removed.

Myths behind the Kayans wearing copper rings

There are few myths explaining why the Kayan women wear those rings around the neckline. It is said to have to do with:

Large hand-painted portrait Kayan woman by Frank Wagtmans
Large hand-painted portrait - Kayan woman by Frank Wagtmans

Video: Making a painting by Frank Wagtmans