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Travel in Kebaya

May be travelling in a traditional wear called Kebaya is not a very easy thing to do, but wait. What is Kebaya actually is?

According to Wikipedia, a kebaya is a traditional blouse-dress combination that originates from Indonesia and is worn by women in Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Burma, Singapore, southern Thailand, Cambodia and the southern part of the Philippines. It is sometimes made from sheer material such as silk, thin cotton or semi-transparent nylon or polyester, adorned with brocade or floral pattern embroidery. A kebaya is usually worn with a sarong or batik kain panjang, or other traditional woven garment such as ikat, songket with a colorful motif.

The kebaya is the national costume of Indonesia, although it is more accurately endemic to the Javanese, Sundanese and Balinese peoples. If you google the word Kebaya, a dozens of variatons of beautiful Kebaya will show up. From the most majestic ones, to the simple ones.

But Kebaya was used in the olden days by Javanese people. The word Kebaya itself originated from Arabic for Abaya, a fullover black dress which is worn mostly by the middle eastern women in the Arab Peninsula.

As the source from Wikipedia says the earliest form of Kebaya originates in the court of the Javanese Majapahit Kingdom as a means to blend the existing female Kemban, torso wrap of the aristocratic women to be more modest and acceptable to the newly adopted Islam religion. Aceh, Riau and Johor Kingdoms and Northern Sumatra adopted the Javanese style kebaya as a means of social expression of status with the more alus or refined Javanese overlords.

The name of Kebaya as a particular clothing type was noted by the Portuguese when they landed in Indonesia. Kebaya is associated with a type of blouse worn by Indonesian women in 15th or 16th century. Prior to 1600, kebaya on Java island were considered as a reserved clothing to be worn only by royal family, aristocrats (bangsawan) and minor nobility, in an era when peasant men and many women walked publicly bare-chested.

Back in the olden days, a Kebaya is worn daily and is used by many Javanese women. So why does today, the now generation looks at Kebaya as something so difficult to wear and considered as a very formal wear. Women back then are capable of doing their daily activities wearing Kebaya so why can’t we?

I have decided to take this on my own term. As I am a Javanese so I have decided to start wearing Kebaya as my trademark. I want to try travel in Kebaya.

 

One Comment

  1. RY RY

    The pictures are fascinating and beautiful. I especially like the one you chose as the main image; also the woman in the shop looking away at something far off; and the one of two girls in formal-ish black and white kebaya tops, one of them with her hair down. Nice blog design too!

    RY, Singapore

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