Do you know what Baju Kurung is?... No? Then read on...
THE BAJU KURUNG
The Baju Kurung, or more specifically, the Baju Kurung Teluk Belanga, is the Pahang traditional Malay costume for women.
And in more "modern" times, we have the Baju Kebaya, more specifically the Baju Kebaya Turki (also known as Baju Riau-Pahang or Baju Belah), become another popular and favorite attire for ladies in Pahang.
Well, just go to any Malay house, open the cupboard of the lady in the house, and you can definitely find at least one Baju Kurung dress in the wardrobe, if not a full line of the traditional Malay women costume.
This is because even though some women prefer modern western attires, the Baju Kurung is still an elegant and sweet dress for women in Pahang and Malaysia.
And worn with matching shoes and handbag, well the lady will look... should I say... demure... charming and... with a well mannered poise -- ahh, a real lady.
For some samples of this exquisite Malay female dress, go to this Baju Kurung Gallery.
BAJU KURUNG BOUTIQUES
We can find in the towns and cities of Malaysia many baju kurung boutiques that sell traditional dresses as well as modern baju kebaya, besides western styles of dresses.
We can find them especially at malls and shopping complexes. There are also many baju kurung e-commerce sites selling various designs and styles in the internet.
POPULAR ATTIRE FOR ALL
That is why in Pahang and in fact in Malaysia, we will find not only the Malay women dorning the Baju Kurung, but other Malaysian races too, like the Chinese, Eurasians, Indians, Ibans and Kadazans.
They put on the Baju Kurung not only when attending formal and ceremonial occasions, but also for the office.
Besides adding extra elegance, simple beauty and style to the wearer, the Baju Kurung, since it is loose fitting, is very comfortable to wear in the hot and humid weather of the equatorial climate.
Being a very loose fitting attire, even fat or pregnant ladies will look smart and elegant in the Baju Kurung.
So although it is the traditional Malay costume and appropriate wear and attire for traditional occasions like weddings, engagements and public functions, the Baju Kurung is also popular and worn daily by the masses for comfort.
More so to the Muslim women, the Baju Kurung also fits and conforms with the Islamic requirement to enclose the body (except the face and hands) and that clothes should not be tight and body hugging as to show the outlines of the wearer’s body.
BRIEF HISTORY OF BAJU KURUNG
The Baju Kurung for women, like the Baju Melayu for the men, is said to originate from the Malaysian state of Johore about 200 years ago and is said to be styled and fashioned by the late HRH Sultan Abu Bakar of Johore in 1866.
It was said that HRH fashioned and popularized the attire to reminisce and leave a legacy following the change of the Johore state capital from Teluk Belanga to Johor Bahru (new name for Bandar Tanjung Puteri).
This Baju Kurung Teluk Belanga for both men and women was popular during the Sultan’s reign as he regularly wore this style, and made it the official attire of the Johore Malays.
Teluk Belanga is located on the island of Singapore and was the administrative center of the Johore Sultanate before it moved to Johor Bahru.
Singapore was made a crown colony of Britain in 1867 and became part of Malaysia in 1963 until it left to be on its own in 1965.
END OF SIDE-NOTE
Although HRH Sultan Abu Bakar was credited as the designer of the Teluk Belanga style, there are also views that the loosely fitting Baju Kurung had been in existence and had been worn by Malay ladies since the times of the Malacca Empire in the 15th Century.
Perhaps it may be noted that in the old days, for protocol reasons, the wearing of attire during official ceremonies involving the Sultan and palace officials are guided by a dress code.
For instance, Malay women are prohibited from wearing the "takwa" dress. This is a long dress like the modern Baju Kebaya, and it has a row of loops for buttons at the front and also at the end of the long sleeves.
A typical Baju Kurung is worn with a sarong which is tailored in the "ikatan ombak mengalun" or "ikatan mengombak" (wavy knitted and sewn) at one side of the sarong.
Besides the aesthetics aspect, this of course is for practical ease of walking, as although tight at the top, the lower part of the sarong is still wide enough and expandable for a big stride.
The Baju Kurung is either worn in the style of "kain berdagang luar" (with the sarong worn outside the dress) or "kain berdagang dalam" (worn inside the dress).
Where the sarong is worn in the style of "kain berdagang luar", the sarong is held at waist level. This sarong also becomes a "kain kelubung" (a head-dress) when worn over the head covering down to the chest.
Normally for the kampung (village) women, the kain berdagang luar is used as a head-cover to shade from the hot sun, or used as a shawl, and sometimes it is tied at the waist like a "samping" (or "sampin").
The sarong normally used for the kain berdagang luar is usually made of kain gerus, kain telepok, kain songket or kain corak Muar (Muar patterned sarong).
In the old days, the Baju Kurung Teluk Belanga used to be made of velvet matched with songket. And just like the male Baju Melayu the dress is sewn with pieces of gold and jewelries. These attires are usually custom-made specially for traditional Malay wedddings.
Normally the sarong for the Baju Kurung Teluk Belanga is tied with the "tali kendit" (string), but nowadays the modern zip and buttons are used.
When putting on the sarong, if the fabric or cloth pattern has a "kepala" (or head), then this head portion of the sarong is worn at the back (just like the manner of wearing a sampin and sarong by the male Malay).
Nowadays, even though the cut of the Baju Kurung is still the same, to add further elegance, color and charm to the dress, embroidery is sewn and added to the dress.
Various motifs normally of colorful flowers, are embroidered at the bottom and both sides of the buttoned front area of the dress.
Sequins and beads are sometimes added to create radiance, glows and glitters to the dress. This is especially so for the dresses of popular singers, music artists and other performers during shows and public performances.
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Well, the Baju Kurung, the Pahang traditional Malay costume, although worn for centuries by Malay women, is really an exquisite attire that still maintains its popularity amidst modern dress designs.
Its simple cut is suitable for all, irrespective of race, anywhere in the world. No wonder then, in the streets and malls of modern Pahang and Malaysia, you can still see the Baju Kurung in all its splendour worn by women.
Well, a thing of beauty is really a joy forever.
I will put in another webpage the information on the Baju Turki or Baju Riau-Pahang, including the "kebaya pendek" (short kebaya) and "kebaya labuh" (long kebaya).
Until then, surf around this website for adventures, cultures and pleasures in the delightful state of Pahang.
As always, from me...
*** SELAMAT DATANG***