Giraffe women emerge from a forgotten world

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Elderly Padaung women, known as giraffe women, wearing the traditional metal coils that are supposed to enhance their beauty.

About 50,000 Padaung survive in eastern Burma, one of the hundreds of small ethnic groups that have been cut off from the world by Burma's secretive military regime, which is at war with some of them and bars most visitors from the border region.

The metal rings are first fitted to girls' necks, oiled with coconut and royal jelly, when they are 10. More are added at two-year intervals until they marry. But such customs are fast dying out under the pressures of war and assimilation.

Photograph from The Vanishing Tribes of Burma, by Richard K Diran, published at pounds 40 next month by Weidenfeld & Nicolson