Making and Wearing of Baju Kurong

Making and Wearing of Baju Kurong

The baju kurong, loosely translated to mean “concealing dress” in Malay, is a traditional Malay costume that consists of a loose-fitting knee-length blouse, worn over a pair of pants (for men) or a long skirt (for women).

In Singapore, there are two versions of this costume. One version is known as baju kurong telok belanga, which gets its name from Telok Blangah in Singapore due to the area’s links to the Johor Sultanate. The other version is known as baju kurong cekak musang which is the more modern, common form worn by Malays in Singapore and Malaysia. The main difference between the two versions is that the former is collarless while the latter has a standing collar with holes for five buttons, including two for the collar.


Geographic Location

The practice of making and wearing baju kurong is common among communities in the Malay Archipelago.


Communities Involved

The baju kurong is mainly associated with the Malay/Muslim community of Singapore and worn on both formal and casual occasions. There is a subset of the baju kurong called the baju kebaya, which is associated with women from Chinese Peranakan and Indian Peranakan communities.



Associated Social and Cultural Practices

The traditional Malay costume is worn both for formal occasions such as weddings and as informal day-to-day attire. However, the baju kurong worn on formal occasions is usually made from silk or brocade, while the baju kurong worn on a daily basis is usually made from cotton or polyester. During Hari Raya Puasa, it is common to see Malay families wearing baju kurong in matching styles when visiting their relatives and friends.

In the past, baju kurongs came in softer, muted colours with floral designs, but today, bright colours and patterns are favoured. Ready-made baju kurongs are available for sale at major fashion stores and departmental stores while tailors offering customised designs and options can be found throughout Singapore. Many of these tailors have turned to the Internet and social media platforms to promote their products and services.


Viability and Future Outlook

As baju kurongs remain popular for formal and informal occasions, and there is a wide range of choice for them, the making and wearing of baju kurongs looks to be sustainable.


References

Reference No.: ICH-043

Date of Inclusion: April 2018; Updated March 2019

References

Aziz, Azah. Rupa dan Gaya: Busana Melayu, Penerbit Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), 2009

Hamid, Rahimah A., Othman, Saad and Salbani, Ahmad Moghni. Rekayasa Kearifan Tempatan dalam Sastera Melayu, Universiti Sains Malaysia Press, 2013.

Hassan, Hanisa. “A study on the development of baju kurung design in the context of cultural changes in modern Malaysia”. Wacana Seni Journal of Arts Discourse, 15: 63–94, 2016



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