Indonesian Traditional Clothing, Shows the Elegance of the Nation

With more than 70,000 islands and a culture influenced by many religions such as Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and Confucianism, Indonesia is a country rich in cultural diversity. This diversity is manifested in diverse customs, traditions and heritage, be it art, dance, crafts, and even clothing. Although the Indonesian people are well adapted to Western culture, they are proud to preserve their local customs and traditions.

Due to their diverse heritage, each province in Indonesia has its own traditional dress, dance and food. This article will take you on a journey of Indonesian culture, focusing on the traditional clothes worn by Indonesians on various occasions.

Often, when thinking of Indonesia, colorful images of women wearing shiny cloths, with accessories and headdresses, come to mind. The most common traditional clothing worn by local residents comes from the regions of Java, Sudan and Bali. One of the most common and popular traditional clothing is batik which is commonly seen on men at weddings, important gatherings or other ceremonies or events, Here is a list of traditional Indonesian clothes:

Batik dan Sarung

Batik is basically a cloth with intricate patterns made using traditional techniques. These techniques vary from region to region, resulting in unique patterns and materials. For decades, it was worn around the waist. However, the fabric has taken on a modern look and is now also used to sew shirts, dresses, skirts and even bags. In fact, it has been classified by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage.

Batik, when worn in the traditional way, is usually paired with a sarong, which is another well-known traditional Indonesian garment; clothing of honor and modesty for the natives. The hallmark of Indonesian sarongs is the peculiarity of the materials they are made of, namely songket, weaving, and tapis. Each of these ingredients comes from various regions in Indonesia itself.

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Kebaya

The kebaya is traditionally worn by Sudanese, Javanese and Balinese women. Usually long-sleeved blouses made of translucent silk, cotton and brocade/nylon. There is even a traditional hairstyle made of the classic combination of kebaya and sarong, where the hair is pulled back into a bun and a gold or even silver headdress is worn to further embellish the outfit.

Women wear kebaya even at formal events and weddings, just as men wear clothes during such events and ceremonies. This is often seen in first ladies and diplomats’ wives, when speaking in public. Despite all their diversity, Indonesian women gather to wear the kebaya every year on April 21 to honor Kartini, an Indonesian female idol, for her struggle for women’s rights and freedoms.

Peci

The pechi, also known as kopiahor songkokis, is an integral part of the formal attire worn by men across the island of Indonesia. This is an important attribute even of the attire of presidents and government officials. The pechi is a black velvet hat, reminiscent of the Turkish fezanda, more commonly worn by Muslim men in Indonesia. Fun fact: This velvet hat was worn by many demonstrators and activists throughout the 20th century to show their nationalist sentiments and solidarity. These activists included Agus Salim, Muhammad Hatta and even Sukamo, who later became president.

Kemben

Women usually wear a torso wrap, the kemben, which is traditionally worn by wrapping a medium-sized body around the trunk, folding the ends and tying it with a soft cord. They finally covered it with wind. Today, the kemben is fastened with a zipper, buttoned strap, and very popular among Javanese women, who traditionally wear two kemben; one to cover the upper body and the other wrapped around the waist like a skirt. In addition, considering the hot and humid weather in Indonesia, a kemben is a very comfortable outfit.

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Interesting fact: before the kebaya became popular among Javanese women, they used kemben!

Baju Kurung

Baju Kurung is a closed shirt that was popularized by Sultan Abu Bakar in the 19th century. Its use increased rapidly, especially in Malaysia, during the 1970s and 1980s, and is now considered the national dress of Malaysia. In Indonesia, it is commonly used in the Sumatra Islands. Traditionally, these were looser and longer dresses than today.

Blangkon

Popularly called belangkon, this is a traditional men’s headdress commonly seen on Javanese men. Usually made of batik cloth and available in four types: Kedu, Banyumasan, Surakarta and Ngayogyakarta. These four categories differ mainly in form and origin. There are many stories about blangkon sources. One of these theories suggests that it is descended from Aji Saka, a conquering giant who owned the island of Java.

Another theory holds that it originated with the Javanese, who adopted both Islamic and Hindu culture, thus absorbing the blangkon trend as well. Belangkon is also said to have come from a turban worn by Indian traders Gujrati who was one of the first Muslims to visit the island for commercial purposes.

It is nearly impossible for Indonesia to single out a single garment as “traditional Indonesian clothing” for the simple reason that the wide cultural and ethnic diversity does not allow the narrowing of the term. In 34 provinces in Indonesia, there are separate traditional clothes which even in the provinces are worn with several variations.

The main reason for this diversity lies in the various legends, symbols and beliefs that characterize this area. Some even reflect strong influences from other cultures, for example Jakarta’s traditional clothing is heavily influenced by Arab, Chinese, and Malaysian cultures.

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On the other hand, Balinese clothing, with its lavish details and decorations, is reminiscent of the influence of Hinduism on Balinese culture.