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Kebaya, Indonesian National Blouse for Woman
Hello readers, how are you? I just wanted to introduce to you one of the art of fashion from Indonesia, our national dress, Kebaya. As Hijabi Muslima, I usually not use this type of apparel, but I want to share with you the part of culture of Indonesia.
Today is April 21, which is the Kartini’s day in Indonesia. Kartini is a heroine who lived during the Dutch colonial period, when the Indonesian women are still confined within the bounds of her way to obtaining customary proper education. Kartini was the first woman who dared to dream to promoted education for women at that time by established special schools for girls. For her services, she was appointed as a national heroine and the date of her birth, which is 21 April celebrated as Kartini’s day in Indonesia, which is a special day for women.
Every year at Kartini’s day, Indonesian women, especially women who work (or study) at education and government institutions celebrate Kartini’s day by wearing the national dress called Kebaya. Kebaya is thin blouse that wear paired with a sarong or batik cloth. But Kebaya not just ordinary blouse. It is a blouse that became the pride of Indonesia and also Malaysia because of its beauty and its originality in design.
Word “Kebaya” comes from the word "Kaba" in Arabic which means clothing. It was introduced by the Portuguese when they set foot for the first time in Southeast Asia. Kebaya came into used since the 15th century by members of the royal family and became their exclusive clothing, while the Indonesian women in general are still using "kemben", which is an apparel made by fabric that folded in such a way to wrap the body right from under arm to bottom, without covering the shoulders.When later the Europeans and the Portuguese who came to Indonesia during Dutch colonial rule began to used it, it slowly began to replaced the position of Kemben, and then kebaya started being used widely by the general public in the more simple design and materials of course, and then recognized as an Indonesian national dress.
Kebaya uniqueness can easily be found in it special design, its beauty and the material it used. The materials of Kebaya generally are thin material of various kinds of fabrics such as Brocade, tulle, silk or satin, which embroidered with flowers pattern, and decorated by lace and beautiful beading. Kebaya used by paired it with a Sarong or Batik cloth which being folded to wrapped body in such a way without using any stitches to make alluring effect on the body, and usually wear with special styling of hair. Apart from a thin material, there is Kebaya made from thick material which is velvet embellished with gold embroidery, but this type of kebaya not many in it’s kind.
If you visit Indonesia and entering traditional markets, you will easily find old women who trade with wearing this outfit. They generally are the women who grew up in the Dutch colonial period, and only used to use Kebaya in their daily living. Also sometimes if you are lucky, you can meet women who peddle traditional herbal medicine or gado-gado (salad type of food) around the town with a basket that tied in her back or carried above her head which is full by her merchandise, but lately these women are rarely to be seen around the town because they started off Kebaya and switch to regular clothing.
Based on the design and the material, Kebaya can be classified into :
(1) Kebaya for daily used which have simpler shapes made from slightly thicker and simple embroidery sections.
(2) a party Kebaya is usually made of brocade materials, combined with Kemben resemble corsets, and
(3) The Wedding Kebaya is usually made of brocade, tulle and lace pattern which is filled with complicated embroidery and beautiful beading.
Originally, wach of the Kebayas designed to showed off the beautiful shape of the body, with sarong or Batik folded very tightly around waist as the skirt.
But today there are type of Kebaya with modern touch in its design and also the use of additional fabric layers which increase it thickness so they no longer exhibit the body. Muslim women usually make it in a loose design. (Too bad I couldn’t able to found a pictures of Wedding Kebaya for Muslimah in loose design to show it to you)
People also turned the Sarong or Batik cloth into skirt with have similar look like folded cloth to make it more easy to wear and move.
Since a few years ago Kebaya began to become the object of interest by many fashion designers, and in their hands a number of works in the form of Haute Couture of Kebaya had been created which later became known by foreign people by shows it at Paris Fashion Runway. Indonesian most famous designer for Kebaya today is Anne Avantie. She is the one that her works always being used at Miss Universe contest for Miss Indonesia.
If you have interest to buy Kebaya, there are several online boutique that sells Kebaya for the International market. You can Google it. But my advice is before buying kebaya from brocade material with no lining, notice first the sensitivity of your skin, because for sensitive and easily irritated skin like mine, for example, wearing Kebaya without lining, though beautiful to the eye, will be incredibly uncomfortable. Itchy! With only by look at the pictures, you must be able to imagine how it feels, right? If you have to deal with this problem, you should just buy kebaya which has a layer to avoid direct contact with skin and it’s embroider brocade material, or you can ask a tailor to made special clothe to be use as layer inside Kebaya.
I hope this useful. :)