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Old photo: Three Burmese members of a circus playing cards in London, England, in 1935.
2024/06/06

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This is a vintage photograph taken in 1935 of a historic scene. In the photo, three Burmese women are playing cards in a circus in London, England, during their free time. Their attire and gestures reflect not only their unique cultural backgrounds, but also the social and cross-cultural exchange of the time.

Dressed in traditional Burmese clothing and wearing simple hair accessories, the three women are seated neatly on a bed covered with a thick quilt.

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Their expressions vary as they concentrate on the cards in their hands, as if enjoying a rare moment of leisure. Their clothing, mainly loose-fitting tops and shorts, was comfortable and casual. The most striking feature, however, was the brass rings they wore around their necks and legs.

These brass rings are traditional jewellery worn by ethnic Padang women since childhood.

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The custom originates from the Batong, an ethnic group in Myanmar. It is said that girls begin to wear brass rings from the age of about five, and as they grow older, the number of brass rings is gradually increased to lengthen their necks. This custom is not only a symbol of beauty, but also a symbol of identity and status. Their necks are wrapped in circles of brass rings that cover almost the entire neck, making their necks look unusually long.

These brass rings were so heavy that they could not be removed without special heavy tools. This means that once worn, they are worn for life. This unique cultural practice and accessory not only makes them unique in circus performances, but also attracts the attention of countless spectators. The three women in the photo are obviously used to this kind of attire, and they play their cards with a natural elegance.

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