Article Written by : Ms. Norikhsan Abdul MADJID
ASEAN-Korea Blog Correspondent, Brunei
Baju Kurung and Baju Cara Melayu are common in Malay society, which includes Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. Women wear Baju Kurung, it is a loose two piece clothing the top cover as long up to the knee with second piece that looks like a long skirt. While the Men wears Baju Cara Melayu, like any Men clothing that consists of tops and pants. Baju Cara Melayu is usally worn with short sarong (Sinjang). Back then woven which is Jong Sarat are used to be called kain besar. Which usually worn during grand occasion like wedding function.
The history of these traditional outfits and the original was uncertain. Some say it decent clothing for daily wear with influence of Islamic design from Arab, before the fusion of fashion from western inspired fashion. Back then, women wears baju kurung even for everyday outfit. The history of Baju Kurung is when Islam teaching in Brunei had taken place; women are ought to cover from head to toe decently. Hence, wearing baju kurung is often to be worn with a headscarf. Until when British Resident was in power, a modern system of governing was implemented. As more local were employed and recruited for higher and lower offices. Western clothing became popular among office workers. English style attire was adopted. Hence, the fusion of Malay outfit with Western. As a result new fashion, Baju Kebaya was introduced. Baju kebaya is almost similar with Baju Kurung but less loose in other words body-fit clothing and more fashionable. From there are a lot of changes in Brunei outfit in terms of fashion and the fabrics are mostly imported from China, Dubai as well as Thailand. Baju kurung and baju kebaya is still well known to all Bruneians, as Baju Kurung or Baju Kebaya is worn as working outfit as well as worn for any function such as weddings and religious function.
Nurul Majid – new generation of Malay women wearing Baju kebaya and Baju Kurung for wedding
As for Baju Cara Melayu is worn by the men. Like Baju Kurung, Baju Cara Melayu has few different designs. Baju Cara Melayu is two-piece outfit that consists of tops and pants. Traditionally, men wear a tunic and a pair of long pants or kain tajong (plaid design sarong). Each has distinctive styles. For example, Kedayan (one of Brunei-Malay ethnic group) tunic is round-necked, and trousers were body-fitting and had additional rectangular cloth called kakun which is tied around their waist. This cloth is used as a belt and to carry food supplies. Men from Brunei ethnic group wears Baju Cara Melayu with short sarong (Sinjang of plaid, checkered or floral made of traditional women cloth) which is worn over the trousers. Black songkok (traditional hat) is used for ceremonial occasions and festivals, as well as prayers.
Baju Cara Melayu hasn’t change that much over centuries. There are different types of traditional Malay outfit, Baju Cara Melayu Teluk belanga (high collar and fastened with several buttons), Baju Cara Melayu Cekak Musang (a flat round neck and slit at the front), Baju Cara Melayu Butang Lima (open front tunic fastened with five small buttons), Baju Cara Melayu Begulambir (an additional cloth about the size of handkerchief is attached at the front of the collar). Originally these designs donate the status of wearers, for instance commoners normally wear Baju Cara Melayu cekak musang and teluk belanga. Meanwhile, Baju Cara Melyu Begulambir was designed for people of high status at court. However, nowadays people are not aware of traditional sartorial rules and symbols.
Photo courtesy :
Nurul Majid- Baju Cara Melayu Teluk Belanga is the common traditional attire that worn by Brunei Malay Ethnic.
The use of Malay traditional attire has come to signify Identity KeBruneian (Brunei National Identity). Although our traditional attire has been thorough modern changes with fusion of Western Fashion, it is still acceptance as long as it is not revealing. In addition, people still can till the changes that been made and still make it as Bruneian attire. I am glad that until today Brunei traditional outfit still been worn in most official functions.