A Guide to Bali Traditional Clothes: The Names & Their Meaning

Not only is it beautiful in nature, Bali is also known to have traditional clothes that attract the attention of foreign tourists. Balinese traditional clothing displays a variety of distinctive colors.

In addition, these clothes have many kinds and high aesthetic value. Are you curious about the types and names of Balinese traditional clothes that are often used by Balinese? Let’s take a look through the following article!

Types of Balinese Traditional Clothes

Having been passed down from generation to generation, Balinese traditional clothing is not only a condition of beauty but also has a philosophy contained in it. The philosophy in traditional Balinese clothing is actually taken from the teachings of Hindu gods and goddesses, considering that the majority of Balinese people are Hindus.

Their clothing contains elements of shade, peace, and joy. Using the concept of Tapak Dara or often called Swastika, Balinese traditional clothing has three parts:

  • Dewa Angga: from head to neck
  • Manusa Angga: from neck to navel
  • Butha Angga: from navel to leg

And here are the 3 types of Balinese traditional clothes:

Payas Agung

Maybe when you go to Bali, you see a lot of people wearing traditional clothes, but they come in different shapes. Then you get confused, which is the correct traditional Balinese clothing? So, there are three types of Balinese traditional clothes. The three of them have different functions, the first is Payas Agung.

bali traditional clothes - payas agung

This type of clothing has a very luxurious impression. Its main characteristic, Payas Agung combines red, gold, and white. These three colors represent luxury in Bali. Because of its very exclusive appearance, Payas Agung cannot be used carelessly, you know. Usually Payas Agung is used specifically for weddings.

Payas Madya

bali traditional clothes - payas madya

Next, there is Payas Madya. This outfit is relatively more flexible than Payas Agung. Payas Madya can be used for daily activities. Besides that, there are no strict rules when wearing this outfit. There are many people who modify Payas Madya to make it more beautiful and contemporary, making it suitable for invitations and even graduations. If you want to try Balinese style, you can really try this type of clothing.

Payas Alit

bali traditional clothes - payas alit
Source: Instagram @happysalma

Apart from Payas Madya and Payas Agung, the last type of Balinese traditional clothing is Payas Alit. This type of Balinese clothing has a distinctive feature, which is a white top. Usually, Balinese people use Payas Alit to worship at temples. The color white was chosen so that the atmosphere was more sacred because white symbolizes purity.

Also read: 6 Must-Visit Balinese Traditional Villages for Authentic Experience

The Names and Meaning of Each Part in Bali Traditional Clothes

men wearing ceremonial clothes

1. Safari Shirt

Safari clothes are traditional Balinese clothes worn by men. This shirt has a shape that is not much different from a shirt in general. The difference is, the safari shirt has a collar and two pockets on the left and bottom right. In addition, there is also a pocket on the left chest. Safari clothes symbolize cleanliness, so these shirts are mostly white.

2. Udeng

For head coverings, Balinese men usually use udeng. Udeng is made from fabrics that are sewn to form a knot in the middle. There are two kinds of udeng: plain and coloured. Plain udeng is usually used when participating in religious ceremonies, while coloured udeng is used for daily activities.

3. Kamen

Kamen is a traditional Balinese cloth which has a shape similar to a sarong. It can be used by men or women, but how to use it is different. For men, wearing kamen is tied in a circle around the waist from left to right. Then a slight fold is formed in the section with a certain knot. Meanwhile, wearing kamen for women is simpler without any knots on the front.

The knot in the use of kamen symbolizes devotion or dharma. The distance between the kamen and the soles of the feet has also been determined, which is about one inch. The knots are made sharp and there are parts that stick out to the ground. This is intended as a symbol of respect for the ancestral land.

women wearing ceremonial clothing

Also read: Immerse Yourself in Bali with Balinese Greetings and Phrases

4. Balinese Kebaya

This kebaya does look like Javanese kebaya. Usually, Balinese kebaya has a simple motif and is bright in color. In addition, in use, this kebaya is always combined with a shawl that is tied like a belt. That way, the graceful side of the woman who wears it radiates more.

5. Prada Belt

Apart from the belt made from the scarf, there is also a Prada belt. This belt is usually used by women to hold kamen. The prada belt has Balinese motifs and has a striking color.

Like other clothes, this belt also has a special meaning. The prada belt is an illustration of protecting a woman’s body, especially the uterus which is a gift from God, so the wearing of this belt is also placed on the abdomen.

Every piece in Balinese traditional clothes has its own purpose and philosophy. As a tourist, you can also try to wear or even rent Bali traditional clothes for one authentic Bali experience. Always have respect for the locals and their culture, or as they say – when in Bali, do as the Balinese do! See you in Bali, Flokqers!

Also read: 7 Must-Follow Rules (and Whys) When Visiting Temples in Bali

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