Kain Kebaya : One of Indonesian National Costumes

Raden Ajeng Kartini, Indonesian National Heroine, with her husband wear kain kebaya and sarong batik

Indonesia has various kind of cultures, customs, folk language, and traditional costumes as well. One of the most popular of Indonesian national costumes is kebaya or kain kebaya for more correct. Kain kebaya is a long blouse worn by most of women in Java and Bali as traditional costume. The term of kebaya derived from the word “kaba” from Arab, middle east which means “clothing” then introduced to Indonesia via Portuguese around 16th century. In the contrary, another resource said that kain kebaya was originated from China. Before 16th century, kain kebaya was only worn by aristocrats and nobilities when the other woman coming from low class walked publicly uncovered-chest. As time went by, kain kebaya became a famous costume and be able to be worn by any women all of Java and Bali. Slowly it naturally spread to Malaysia, Mindanao, Sulawesi, and also Borneo.

Component of kain kebaya :

Generally, there are two types of kain kebaya, transparent kain kebaya and untransparent kain kebaya. Before wearing transparent kain kebaya we have to wear torso wrap called kemben, then un-stitched sarong is twisted into form of tube, held in place with a string and folded this string at the waist. Then held with a belt which may hold a decorative pocket. The wearing methode of untransparent kain kebaya is the same way as transparent kain kebaya.

kebaya size

Creativity and Modification of kain Kebaya :

Nowadays designers of kain kebaya has been modified, harmonized with modern element designs such as : kain kebaya is able to wear with jeans in apperance, blending kain kebaya with modern brocade that make it more elegant and beautiful. All of these efforts which are developing and improving continously in design, try to make an equality between kain kebaya and imported western gown. Even modification and creativity take a significant place as preservation way to our heritage, it won’t lose its originality and purity of kain kebaya itself. They still keep a basic style of kain kebaya, size, and proportion as well in order to preserve the original one. Now everypeople from various classes choose and wear kain kebaya as a costumes when celebrate wedding ceremony, gradution ceremony, and religious activities.
Differences of Java’s kain kebaya and Bali’s kain kebaya:

Generally, Java’s kain kebaya and Bali’s kain kebaya are similar in size, style, and apperance. In Bali’s style, there is a long shawl or stole twisted in a waist called selendang, then it looks like a belt that we can not figure it out in Java’s style. Differ from Bali’s, Java’s shawl or stole is worn over on shoulder or diagonally across body. Not only do dedicate for Javanese and Balinese, kain kebaya is Indonesian Heritage, our heritage, that we have to proud, preserve, and of course wear it in special occasion.

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