Circus Problems and the Colonizer-Colonized Convergence in Late Colonial Burma

Le Minh Khai's SEAsian History Blog

I recently came across some images from the 1930s that were advertising “giraffe-necked women.” Apparently in the 1930s there were Padaung women from Burma who were put on display at various circuses in Europe and America.




While these advertisements suggest that the Padaung women were a big attraction, there were people at the time who were upset about these advertisements.

In 1937 the Burmese Women’s League passed a resolution that condemned British newspapers for carrying advertisements for the Bertram Mills Circus that featured the Padaung women.

What upset the Burmese Women’s League was not what would upset many people today; that the Padaung women were being put on display like zoo animals, but that these advertisements referred to the Paduang as “Burmese.”


The members of the Burmese Women’s League felt that by referring to the Padaung as “Burmese,” British newspapers were lowering the prestige of Burmese women.

As a report…

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Sapa & Bac Ha Sunday Market – Vietnam – November 2014

Miles away from home

Sapa came highly recommended by nearly everyone we spoke with.  I don’t think they have ever been there in the winter time.  However, before I get into our experience, lets back track to getting to Sapa. 

After doing some research online, we learned that the train is very expensive.  We found that the local bus from Hanoi goes up to Lau Cai for 200,000vnd each. From there you can catch a bus for 55,000vnd each to Sapa putting our total at 510,000.  However, we would also have to pay about 140,000vnd for a taxi to the bus station from our hotel bringing our total up to 650,000vnd.  Our hotel offered a tour bus that would take us up for 315,000vnd each and they pick us up from the hotel.  Funny how a local can seemingly get you a better price.  This also wasn’t the best price because we met a…

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Singing In The Lifeboats

It’s a funny and rather confusing mixture of contradictions in Meo Vac in Ha Giang Province, N.E Vietnam. The landscape is impressive but mad; huge rocky limestone karsts rising out of the mountains, rocks strewn all over the hillsides, and winding mountain roads reaching up into the low clouds, all of which would conspire to make it rather bleak and foreboding were it not for one other very important ingredient in the mix.

©ClareRowntreeXF18mmF2 RX-E1FUJIFILMMeo Vac

©ClareRowntreeXF18mmF2 RX-E1FUJIFILM

Everywhere you look, people seem to pop up from behind the rocks smiling.

©ClareRowntreeXF56mmF1.2 RX-E1FUJIFILM

Meo Vac is home to the green Hmong ethnic minority group of people, known for their hard work and tenacity. It’s quite incredible to see how they have manage to survive in the harsh terrain and often inclement weather, every inch of spare soil being planted with corn or manyon, just about the only crops which will grow up there.

©ClareRowntreeXF56mmF1.2 RX-E1FUJIFILM-3

©ClareRowntreeXF18mmF2 RX-E1FUJIFILM-2

Even more impressive is…

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H’mong woman, Sapa, Vietnam

josune aizpurua zaldua

She is a H’mong ethnic group woman and she lives in Sapa. She is 25, she has 3 children and she speaks vietnamese, her own ethnic group language and the english she learnt at school. She lives in a little village and she goes to Sapa downtown to sell bags, scarfs, jewelry and so on to tourists.


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