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About Sarongs

(Article with curtesy of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)

A sarong or sarung (pronounced [ˈsaɾoŋ] in Bahasa; English: /səˈrɒŋ/) is a large tube or length of fabric, often wrapped around the waist and worn as a kilt by men and as a skirt by women throughout much of South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Arabian Peninsula, the Horn of Africa, and on many Pacific islands. The fabric most often has woven plaid or checkered patterns, or may be brightly colored by means of batik or ikat dyeing. Many modern sarongs also have printed designs, often depicting animals or plants.

In strict usage, sarong [Malay, "sheath"] denotes the lower garment worn by the Malay people, both men and women. This consists of length of fabric about a yard wide and two-and-a-half yards 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. 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 and women of all races and religions in Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Northeast Part of India, in which Sarong is known as Phanek in Manipuri and most parts of Southern India where it is called lungi or mundu.

Sarongs are widespread in the Northeast part of India - in the state of Manipur, where they are called phanek, in the South Indian states of Kerala, where they are called mundu, and Tamil Nadu, where they are called sarem or veshti or lungi (worn by Muslims) and are usually worn at home. A standard lungi measures 2.12 by 1.2 metres. Unlike the brightly coloured 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 also dresses based on the mundu which can be worn by women, they more commonly wear the sari.

In Australia, North America and 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 times rayon, and may feature decorative fringing on both sides. Some sarongs may also 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 almost exclusively worn by women, and do not usually resemble a traditional African or Asian sarong.

Sarongs are traditionally worn over or in place of regular clothing.