Photographer's Note

The youngest of the family, intrigued by our presence. Telling children that they are descendants of a father who was a weiza, a supernatural being, and a mother, who was a dragon, may make for a good bedtime story, but for the ethnic Pa-O it is more than a sleep-inducing fable. Once upon a time, the dragon mother laid three eggs, the first of which gave birth to the ethnic Karen people, the second the Pa-O, and the third the ethnic Karenni and Padaung. The Pa-O derive their name from the vernacular word Pa-U, which means being helped during birth. The tale is not popular among Karen but for the Pa-O it is a legend that has been passed from generation to generation for centuries and forms the foundation of most all of their customs. In fact, the Pa-O wear their origins on their sleeve—and elsewhere. Their trademark turban, for instance, is a manifestation of this creation myth. The men drape the tail of their turban to one side, as a weiza might wear his hat, while the women fashion theirs to resemble a dragon’s head.

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Additional Photos by Elaine springford (everlasting) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 964 W: 67 N: 2929] (19314)
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