Traditional Folk Tale — A long time ago a wise female dragon lived in the sea. She had many friends in the sea but she also longed to see what humans looked like, so one day she decided to leave the sea in search for them.
When she left the sea she saw a frog in a stream and she asked the frog whether he knew where to find a human. The frog said he was not sure, but that every day he saw a creature flying through the sky. The creature would fly to the forest in the morning and fly back to the mountain every night.
The dragon asked the frog if he could show her where the creature went at night. The frog said he could and he leads the dragon upstream towards the top of the mountain where they came upon a cave. The frog said: “I think this is where the creature lives”.
The dragon asked the frog to wait outside and she entered the cave. When she entered the cave the dragon turned into a human form. She looked around the cave and could see that someone had been living there as it was dirty and there were an unmade bed and cooking pots in it.
She decided to clean the cave and make the bed. When she had finished she hid outside to see who would return that evening. That evening a man returned home and found his cave clean and tidy. He could not imagine who could have done this so he decided to go to sleep.
The next day he woke up and went to the forest to collect fruit and medicines. The dragon, in female form, came out of hiding and returned to the cave and once again cleaned it up and made the bed. Once she had finished she again went outside to hide and wait for the man to return.
That evening the man returned home to find his bed made again and his cave neat and tidy. He was now very curious to find out who was doing this. He decided that the next day he would not go deep into the forest, but return early to find out who was visiting his home.
The next day the man left as usual and the dragon woman once again set about cleaning his cave. The man only traveled half way to the forest and then turned around and returned home.
Upon his return, he saw a girl cleaning his home. He thought she was very beautiful. He entered the cave and began to ask her questions, such as: “Where do you come from?” and “Why are you doing this?”
The girl did not want him to know that she was a sea dragon, so she lied to him. They talked for a while and they realized very quickly that they were in love, so from that night the girl stayed with the man in the cave. However, she had to be careful as when she slept her shadow was that of a dragon not of a human, so she was always careful to fall asleep after him and wake up before he did.
Many months passed and the girl was now pregnant. She felt very tired, so one day while the man was in the forest she decided to sleep a little in the afternoon. Unfortunately that day the man decided to return early and he found his wife asleep. He noticed that her shadow resembled a dragon. He was very angry as he realized he had been tricked and he left her.
Later on, the girl woke up and waited for the man to return, but days passed and he did not return. Broken hearted she left the cave to return to the sea, but before she entered the sea she laid two eggs on the beach and then she disappeared into the ocean.
A monk called Tay Taa came to the beach to wash some medicinal herbs in the ocean. He saw the two eggs and decided to take them back to his home on another mountain. When he returned home he built a fire to signal his friend, another monk called Dee Ha, to come to visit him. He showed his friends the eggs and they decided to keep one each.
Dee Ha returned to his home with his egg and soon after his egg hatched and inside there was a baby girl. He named her Shway-nan-dor and she was the first Kayan woman. Tay Taa’s egg also began to hatch and he was so excited that he held to crack open the egg. Inside was a baby boy. He named him Tay Taa Dee Ha Ya-sah and he is believed to be the father of the Pa-o people.
— Traditional Folk Tale
The Kayan people belong to the Red Karen ethnic minority and reside mainly in Shan State – Burma’s biggest state. About half as many live in Kayah State, and a few hundred more live across the border in Thailand. It is believed that they wear the brass coils around their neck to resemble their ancestor, the female dragon.