A Karen Padaung woman, North of Thailand near Mae Hong song
The Padaung are a sub-group of Karen living in Kayah state of eastern Burma on the Thailand border. They number less than 40,000 people in total. The Padaung call themselves "Lae Kur" or "Kayan". They have their own language which belongs to the Kenmic group in the Tibeto-Burman language family.
The Karen themseves are not one homogeneous group but rather a loose confederation of heterogeneous and closely related tribes. Among the smallest of the Karen tribes in Thailand are the Karen Padaung.
In Thailand, only a few families of Padaung have settled temporarily as refugees in Muang District of Mae Hong Son Province, near Ban Tha Ton in Chiang Rai Province, and as of June 2005 a small group near Chiang Dao. Generally they live among other hilltribes groups, mostly Karen.
The Padaung escaped from the Kaya State in Burma to Thailand in the mid to late 1900's and are actually refugees of a political turmoil. They belong to the Karenni sub-group of the Karen People, which are still fighting for their independence in Burma.