The traditional apparel for Malays are Baju Kurung & Baju Melayu. The baju kurung is the traditional apparel for Malay women in Malaysia while the baju melayu is the traditional apparel for Malay men in Malaysia.
For women, the ensemble comprises a long-sleeved loose fitting long blouse worn over a matching sarong. Batik sarong is not usually worn with the Baju Kurung except for very casual wear at home when no attempt is made to match the Baju. To complete the outfit, a long scarf (selendang) is worn around the shoulders or around the head, crossed loosely at the front of the neck.
For men, the baju melayu is worn with matching trousers. A kain samping (usually made of Kain Songket ) completes the ensemble. The kain samping is a short sarong worn around the waist with the hemline just above the knee.
Both Baju Kurung & Baju Melayu is a very comfortable outfit to wear – it is non-restrictive and is cool in the tropical weather. It looks elegant on any kind of figure as the flowing lines of the baju camouflages any imperfect figure.
CHARACTERISTICS & VARIATIONS OF THE BAJU KURUNG & BAJU MELAYU
There are a few variations of the Baju Kurung & the Baju Melayu:
- The traditional Baju Kurung (for women) is worn with the hemline well below the knee. The neckline is round with a vertical 6 inch slit at the front. This neckline is finished in herringbone stitching. The neckline is worn with a special single Baju Kurung button which is held in place by two loops. The baju has one patch pocket placed at the right hand side of the front panel of the baju.
- The Baju Kurung Kedah (for women) is basically like the traditional Baju, but is cut shorter – the hem being just below the waistline; it is in fact a crop version of the traditional Baju.
- The Baju Kurung Moden (for women) is the modern version of the Baju. The basic cut for the Baju Kurung Moden is different from the traditional cut and the collars are worn in a variety of different styles. Accessories like piping and fancy buttons are also added.
- The Baju Melayu (for men) has the same basic cut as for the traditional Baju for women but the collar is different. It has a standup round collar (about three quarters of an inch high) – not unlike the Nehru collar. The neck opening is closed using three cuff-link type buttons. However men in the state of Johor usually observes a neckline finished in herringbone stitching as well. The kain samping is also worn inside the shirt rather than outside around the waist.
THE KAIN SAMPING
The Kain Samping is worn by a man. It is a short sarong – about half the size of the regular sarong. It is worn over the trouser of the baju kurung ensemble. It is tied like the variations one and two methods described above. However, when variation two is used, the fan at the top left hand is spread out to form a circular fan. The Kain Samping may be made of any material, but the Kain Songket Samping is usually worn at ceremonies and Hari Raya. The Kain Songket is woven inMalaysia especially in the states of Kelantan & Trengganu.
* This will be the first in a few series of Traditional Costumes worn in Malaysia