A sarong or sarung (/səˈrɒŋ/); is a large tube or length of fabric, often wrapped around the waist, worn in Southeast Asia, Southern Asia, Western Asia, Northern Africa, East Africa, and on many Pacific islands.
The term "sarong" ([ˈsaroŋ) is an English loanword of Malay origin meaning "to cover" or "to sheath".
It was first used in 1834 referring skirt-like garment of the Malay.
Sarong or sarung denotes the lower garment worn by Southeast Asian men and women.
This consists of a length of fabric about a yard (0.91 m) wide and two-and-a-half yards (2.3 m) long.
In the center of this sheet, across the narrower width, a panel of contrasting color or pattern about one foot wide is woven or dyed into the fabric, which is known as the kepala or "head" of the sarong.
This sheet is stitched at the narrower edges to form a tube.
One steps into this tube, brings the upper edge above the level of the navel (the hem should be level with the ankles), positions the kepala at the center of the back, and folds in the excess fabric from both sides to the front center, where they overlap and secures the sarong by rolling the upper hem down over itself.
Malay men wear sarongs woven in a check pattern; women wear sarongs dyed in the batik method, with, for example, flower motifs, and in brighter colors.
However, in Javanese culture, the wearing of batik sarung is not restricted to women on formal occasions such as weddings.
The sarong is common wear for women, in formal settings with a kebaya blouse.
Malay men wear sarongs in public only when attending Friday prayers at the mosque, but sarongs remain very common casual wear at home for men of all ethnicities and religions in Brunei, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, and much of the Indian subcontinent.
Main article: Izaar
Local names for the garment include fūṭah, izaar, wizār and maʿwaz (pl. maʿāwiz).
In Hadhramawt sarong is called ṣārūn in the interior and ṣārūm in the coastal region.
In southwestern Saudi Arabia, tribal groups have their own style of unstitched izaar, which is locally woven.
This is also worn in northern Yemen.
However, the tribal groups in Yemen each have their own design for their fūṭah, the latter of which may include tassels and fringes.
They are generally worn open and unstitched in such a way that the garment does not reach over one's ankles.
It was the traditional garment for men before the introduction of pant-like pajamas and kaftans during the Turkish and European colonial periods.
Tube-stitched, as well as open sarongs, are both worn, even informal dishdasha-wearing countries, as casual sleepwear and at home.
Main article: Lungi
Sarongs, very similar to those of South-East Asia and completely different from the Indian subcontinent (excluding Sri Lanka) are widespread – in the state of Manipur, where they are called Phanek and Mekhela in Assam which are very similar to traditional attires of other South-East Asian nations.
In the South Indian states of Kerala, where they are called mundu (if fully white or fully black) and lungi or kaili if coloured, and Tamil Nadu, where they are called kaili or saaram or vetti or lungi and are usually worn at home.
A standard lungi measures 2.12 by 1.2 metres.
Unlike the brightly colored Southeast Asian sarongs, the Kerala variety (the mundu) is more often plain white and is worn for ceremonial or religious purposes.
In Kerala, the brightly coloured sarongs are called kaily and the white ones are called mundu.
The more formal, all-white dhoti is worn for formal and religious occasions.
While there are dresses based on the mundu which can be worn by women, they more commonly wear the sari.
Sarongs are very common in Sri Lanka and worn only by men.
(A similar garment is worn by women.
However, the women's garment is called "redda", which is wrap-around skirt.)
It is the standard garment for most men in rural and even some urban communities.
However, most men of upper social classes (whose public attire is trousers) wear the sarong only as a convenient night garment or only within the confines of the house.
Statistically, the number of people wearing sarong as their primary public attire is on the decline in Sri Lanka; the reason being that the sarong carries the stigma of being the attire for less educated lower social classes.
However, there is a trend toward adopting sarong as a fashionable garment or as a formal garment worn with national pride, only on special occasions.
Political and social leaders of Sri Lanka who want to portray their humility and closeness to "common man" and their nationalism, choose a variation of the sarong nicknamed the "national" as their public attire.
Horn of Africa
Although nomadic and urban Somali men have worn them for centuries in the form of a plain white skirt, the colorful macawiis (ma'awiis) sarong, which is the most popular form of the garment in the region, is a relatively recent arrival to Somalia courtesy of trade with the Southeast Asian islands and the Indian subcontinent.
Before the 1940s, most macawiis were made of cotton.
Designs vary greatly and range from checkered square motifs with watermarked diamonds and plaid to simple geometric lines.
The one constant is that they tend to be quite colorful; black macawiis are rare.
Sarongs in Somalia are worn around the waist and folded several times over to secure their position.
They are typically sold pre-sewn as one long circular stretch of cloth, though some vendors offer to sew them as a value-added service.
Sarung or sarong is often described as Indonesian skirt; it is a large tube or length of fabric, often wrapped around the waist and worn by men and women throughout much of Indonesian archipelago.
Sarong is also commonly described as unisex tubular skirt.
This kind of sarong cloth are stitched together to create a tubular skirt-like lower garment.
In Bali, sarong are not stitched together as a tube, but remains as a piece of cloth to wrap around the waist and secured with a knot.
Sarongs are used by various ethnic groups in Indonesia.
They are made from a variety of materials such as cotton, polyester or silk.
Indonesian women wear traditional costume called kebaya as upper garment, while for lower garment they wear sarongs dyed in the batik method, with flower motifs and in brighter colors.
However, in Javanese culture, the wearing of batik sarung is not restricted to women on formal occasions such as weddings.
In 2019, in an effort to promote and popularize sarong among its people, the government encouraged Indonesians to wear sarong in public at least once a month.
In the Malaysian state of Sarawak, it is called sabok (for men) and tapeh (for women).
They are worn by both men and women and can be rectangular or tube-like.
They can be knee-length or ankle-length and come in various colors that are usually unique to the specific ethnic group that wove them.
Among men, the skirt is usually drawn up and tied at the waist (like a dhoti), forming a trouser-like clothing known as a salawal.
They can also serve as shawls or blankets.
They were paired with close-fitting shirts or jackets known as baro or bayu.
Among the Maranao people, the malong is featured in the folk dance kapa malong malong which shows the various ways that the malong can be utilized.
During the Spanish colonial era, the tapis was worn over a longer Spanish skirt (saya or falda) due to the shortness of the tapis being deemed too immodest by the Spanish clergy to be worn alone.
It evolved over time to become part of the traditional Filipino dress for women, the baro't saya.
In North and South America as well as Europe, hip wraps are worn as beach wear or as a cover-up over swimwear.
The wrap is often made of a thin, light fabric, often rayon, and may feature decorative fringing on both sides.
They may have ties, which are long thin straps of fabric which the wearer can tie together to prevent the wrap from falling down.
These wraps are mostly worn by women as beach cover ups and do not usually resemble traditional Asian or African sarongs in size, pattern or design.
Western men who wear male sarongs are influenced by the Scottish kilt or lava-lava within the Polynesian or Samoan culture.
Typically sarongs are worn by men when they are at home or at the beach or as a cover up on a nude beach or by the pool or on a cruise.
Numerous tying methods exist to hold a sarong to the wearer's body.
In some cases, these techniques customarily differ according to the sex of wearer.
If a sarong has ties, they may be used to hold it in place.
Sarong ties give the wearer a little extra hold and security.
If no ties exist, a pin may be used, the fabric may be tightly tucked under itself in layers, the corners of the main sheet may be around the body and knotted, or a belt may be used to hold the sarong in place.
The basic garment known in English most often as a "sarong", sewn or unsewn, has analogs in many regions, where it shows variations in style and is known by different names.
- In East Africa, it is called either a kanga (worn by African women), or a kikoy, traditionally worn by men and used with much simpler designs, however, it is used more frequently in high fashion. Kangas are brightly coloured lengths of cotton that incorporate elaborate and artistic designs and usually include the printing of a Swahili proverb along the hem.
- In Madagascar it is called a lamba.
- In Malawi it is called a chitenje.
- In Somalia it is called a Macawis or Hoosgunti.
- In Mauritius they are called pareos.
- In Mozambique it is called a capulana.
- In South Africa it is called a kikoi and commonly used as a furniture throw or for going to the beach.
- In Zambia they are known as chitenge.
- "Kangas" or "cangas" are used in Brazil as swimwear by women. Those are readily available at beaches and littoral cities, but are also found in shops in the countryside for swimming in pools or rivers.
- Middle East
- Indian subcontinent
- In South India it is called a lungi. It is most often sewn into a large cylindrical shape, so there is no slit when the phanek or lungi is tied.
- In eastern India and Bangladesh it is known as a lungi.
- In Northeastern India traditional clothing are the Phanek in Manipur and Mekhela in Assam which are very similar to the traditional attires of other South-East Asian nations and are completely different from the Indian subcontinent.
- In South India it is called Veetti in Tamil, pancha in Telugu, panche in Kannada, and Mundu in Malayalam.
- In the southernmost districts of Tamil Nadu, it is also known as Chaaram, possibly influenced from Sri Lanka from the trading days
- In the Maldives, and Indian state of Kerala, it is known as a mundu, feyli or neriyathu.
- In Punjab it is a called Chadra.
- In Sri Lanka it is called Saram in Tamil, and Sarama in Sinhalese.
- In Cambodia it is used as an alternative to sampot.
- In Laos and Isan (northwestern Thailand), it is called a Sinh (Lao: ສິ້ນ, Thai: ซิ่น), also sarong as well.
- In Malaysia it is known as a kain, kain pelikat, kain sarung, kain tenun, kain batik, or kain sampin (specialised sarong worn by men with Baju Melayu). In Malaysian state of Sarawak, it is called sabok (for men) and tapeh (for women).
- In Myanmar, it is known as a longyi.
- In the Philippines it is generally known as malong (in Mindanao), patadyong (in Visayas and the Sulu Archipelago), and tapis (in Luzon). It can function as a skirt for both men and women, a turban, Niqab, Hijab, a dress, a blanket, a sunshade, a bedsheet, a "dressing room", a hammock, a prayer mat, and other purposes. During the Spanish colonial period, it evolved into a distinctive outer covering of the skirt for the baro't saya.
- In Thailand, it is known as a pha khao ma (Thai: ผ้าขาวม้า) for men and a pha thung (Thai: ผ้าถุง) for women.
- Pacific Islands
- In Fiji it is known as an isulu.
- In Hawaii it is referred to as "kikepa."
- In Papua New Guinea the Tok Pisin term is lap-lap. Worn by men and women. In the other lingua franca, Hiri Motu, it is called "rami".
- In Rotuma, it is known as a "hạ' fạli"
- In Samoa it is known as a lavalava (also lava-lava).
- In Tahiti and Cook Islands it is known as a pāreu.
- In Tonga it is known as tupenu.
In the media
The American public is most familiar with the sarong for the dozens of films set in the South Seas, most of them romantic dramas made in the 1930s and 1940s.
Lamour starred in multiple films of this genre, starting with The Hurricane in 1937.
In fact, Lamour was nicknamed "The Sarong Girl" by the press and even wore a sarong on occasion in more traditional films.
Male stars who wore the manly sarongs on film include Jon Hall, Ray Milland, Tyrone Power, Robert Preston and Sabu Dastagir, as well as Ralph Fiennes in The Constant Gardener and Pierce Brosnan in The Thomas Crown Affair.
The 2005 documentary film Soldiers in Sarong, directed by Lokendra Arambam, depicts the women's resistance movement in Manipur, North-East India.
The 2020 Indonesian film depicts a martial arts tradition where combatants are joined together by the garment.
In Singapore, the term Sarong Party Girl refers to a local single Singaporean woman especially of Chinese ethnicity who favor socializing and having relationships with expatriate Caucasian men rather than the local ones.
Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarong.