by: Harry Hpone Thant

Paulang Madien Pic

There are more than 130 different ethnic groups making Myanmar their home. And each and every group has its distinctive traditional dresses. The dresses also reflect their beliefs in their origin, which they lovingly tell and re-tell at every occasion.

Palaungs are scattered all over the Shan States. Mostly they engage in the planting and curing of tea leaves. According to some accounts they are distinguished into Ngwe (Silver) and Shwe (Gold) Palaungs. Gold Palaungs live around Kyaukme, Namsan in the Northern Shan State and the majority of the Silver Palaungs make their homes in the Southern and Eastern Shan States. No one can say why they are differentiated as such but one story is that a Shansawbwa (hereditary prince) from the Northern Shan State, married a Palaung girl and showered her with so much gold that they became known as Gold Palaungs. Also most of the Silver Palaungs women wear broad silver bands around their waits as ornamental belts.

And there is also an enchanting story attached to their traditional dresses. But as usual, the story starts with, Once Upon A Time………….

There were seven, young female beautiful Keinnari creatures (half-human and half-bird mythical creature). One day they were splashing about happily at a lake when suddenly a Prince happened upon them. All managed to run away except the youngest, who was caught by his magic lasso. The Prince took the young Keinnari to his palace and to keep her from returning to her native land put her in three tiers of magic belts, a cloth belt, a lacquered cane belt and a silver belt.

The Palaung women dresses still show these ancient beliefs. As the young Keinnari girl was abruptly surprised by the prince she had no time to dress properly. The sarong was hastily pulled up to her breast and the blouse was put on quickly. Not having time to button up properly a jungle thorn was used instead to fasten it.

All these are still evident in the dresses. The sarong is still pulled up high to cover the breasts, the blouse is worn over it but now a safety pin had replaced the jungle thorn. And the three tiers of belts are still worn.

All the Palaung ladies still believe that if they are able to take off all the belts they would gladly fly away to their native Silver Cloud Land.



Article Source: courtesy of

Photo Credit: Moe Min (Rays)

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