By: Ade Tanesia
This article was originally published in Latitudes magazine, a renowned bi-monthly magazine focusing on Indonesian culture. The magazine hailing from the island of Bali previously existed in paper form and was especially known for its in-depth critical articles and beautiful photography. As a tribute to all contributors of this magazine Latitudes.nu presents a selection of articles published in the years 2001-2004.
|They have veered in and out of fashion over the years, but sarung are still everyday attire for many Indonesians. Ade Tanesia traces the history of sarung, and some of the changing meanings attached to them.
What would have happened if Indonesia hadn’t been colonized by the Dutch? From the point of view of fashion, it’s possible that Indonesians would still be wearing a sarung (a length of fabric, sewn into a tube, and worn wrapped around the waist) as their everyday apparel. Certainly, clothing like trousers for men, or skirts and dresses for women, only became known across Indonesia after the Dutch tightened their grip on the archipelago. The first group that regularly wore these new foreign clothes were Western-educated Javanese—such as the students of STOVIA, the colonial teacher training school, and a select group of Priyayi (Javanese aristocratic) men, who became low-ranking civil servants. The trend spread fast as more of these colonial schools were opened during the first decades of the twentieth century, after the implementation of the Dutch ‘Ethical Policy’.