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A Glimpse at Balinese Costumes

13 March 2009

When you happen to make a visit to a temple festival anywhere in Bali, you assuredly see the Hindu devotees attend the festival in uniformed-looking Balinese costume. Men wear kamben or large skirt, safari jacket or shirts, smaller sash and headdress, while woman wear long-sleeved lacey kebaya, cummerbund (stagen) and with hair bun walking steadily and balancing ritual paraphernalia on their head like gebogan (fruits, flower, cakes arrangement and canang sari).

Since around the 1990s, there was great change in mens costume where they (excluding temple priests that indeed always do) tended to wear white or bright-colored shirt or safari jacket even though without any instruction of religious institution. Shirts, sash and headdress in harmonious white or the nearest light colors, while skirt varies. Similarly, ladys costumes undergoes similar trend. If previous kebaya are mostly made of brocade in simple design, later came to be made of other fabrics adorned with embroidered sides and so forth.

Thats only for costume in relation to worship activity. There are, at least, other two kinds of Balinese costumes. Firstly, light costume that usually consists of casual shirt and completed with skirt and sash. It is usually worn on attending socio-religious activities like mutual assistance in preparing religious rite or meeting of customary village. Secondly, costume for those that undergo rites de passage or manusa yajna like for wedding and tooth-filing ceremony. By and large, it is completed with some gold leaf ornament and glamorous accessories. An interesting point that is worth noting in this trend is on mens sash. In line with the wide use of cellular phone and when it has become vital to day-to-day life, designer of Balinese costume also responds it as a consumers demand. One of the points is by marking off with adding pocket for the phone. However, this only applied to sash used in light costume.

As a matter of fact, Bali has retains a huge potential in fashion resources. It has, not less than, three distinctive traditional textile forms. Firstly, woven songket brocade of which motif resembles to cubical form composed of various colors of yarn. Most of them are used for skirt, sash and mens headdress or destar. Secondly, prada or gold leaf cloth namely special motif printed on cotton fabric. This motif actually indicates accumulation of various foreign influences to Balinese ornament like that from China, Egypt and Dutch. Textile of this kind is widely used for costume Balinese dancer and bride. In addition, this prada cloth is also used to adorn various shrines that festooned around its body and other sacred buildings at temple and pavilion for holding rituals. The last one is called woven ikat or endek. The most famous ikat cloth is that of.Tenganan called gringsing cloth. Tenganan village is one of native Balineses and famous for its unique traditional compound setting. This village is located in Karangasem Regency, Eastern Bali. Other than mentioned above, the Balinese also make use of a distinctive checkered square pattern (black and white) cloth that is considered to have a magical power. It is usually used for sash of pecalang (traditional security of customary village), servants to royalty in traditional drama, kulkul split d r u m, penunggun karang (shrine of guardian), guardian effigies on entrance gate and big trees that considered to be sacred. In fact, Balinese do not only need cloth for themselves but also for holy shrine, sacred things and others that have bring life to them.

Canang Sari : a common, small everyday offering, its shape of shallow square containing many kind of flowers.