Measurements: 11 ¾” tall. photo by Rago Arts
Vintage 1950s Bottle Kayan Woman’s Bust Italian Liquor Bottle
Manufacturer: Porcellane Canova of Padova, Italia. The company produced vases, liquor bottles and lamp bases.
Description: Tall, liquor bottle, made up of glazed ceramic, in the shape of an ethnic woman’s bust, with hair in upswept hairstyle, rings around neck and stylized features. Brass earrings hang from the pierced ears. The bust is further accented with blue on the hair, and gilding around the neck circles. This bust depicts a woman of the exotic Kayan people of Myanmar.
This bottle has been erroneously recorded as a perfume bottle for the company La Ducale for their scent Egizia from 1936. In all actuality , the perfume Egizia was launched in 1923. This bust bears the label for a company named La Ducale but it is not related to the perfume company. The bust bottle dates to the 1950s and is for liquor. The bust bottle also does not represent any Egyptian design or motifs and is more Asian in character.
Inspiration for the bottle’s design:
In the border mountains between Burma and Thailand live the Kayan (known also as Padaung) people, related to the Burmeses and Tibetans.
These are not to be confused with the Malayan people with the same name from Borneo, related to Dayaks. Today, their tribe numbers around 40,000 souls. Visitors to their villages are amazed by the neck rings worn by the women of the tribe. The neck rings of a woman are, in fact, a single brass coil placed around the neck. The first coil is applied when the girl is five years old and with the growing is replaced by a longer coil. The length of the coil and the added weight presses the clavicle and the rib cage, resulting in the appearance of a very long neck. In fact, the neck does not elongate, this is impossible.
The "secret" of the "giraffe" women is that the clavicle and the ribs descend 45 degrees down from their normal position. The maximum weight of a coil is of 5 kg. This ancient tradition has unknown roots. The coils may have made Kayan women unattractive to slave trade. Some say that the coils are against tiger bite. More likely, it reflects the neck of a dragon.
For the Kayan women, the coils confer them a tribal identity, associated with beauty. In fact, the coils ensure that Kayan women will marry only inside their own tribe. The rings, once on, are seldom removed, as it is a somewhat lengthy procedure. Many thought that unfaithful women got, as a punishment, their coils removed, which led to their suffocation because their neck broke, but this is nonsense. Many women removed the coils when they felt it as obsolete or for medical examinations.
But most women prefer to wear the rings once their neck are elongated, because the skin portion kept so many years under the brass is often bruised and discolored. And many, after ten years or more of continuous wear, feel the collar like an integral part of the body.