Woven Identities (ASEAN Clothing Traditions)

Woven Identities (ASEAN Clothing Traditions) is an exhibit in NAIA Terminal 3. It showcases the age-old customs of dressing of the member countries of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) – Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. The clothes “not only highlight the remarkable craftsmanship and distinct identity of each culture, but also celebrate the common thread that unifies the ASEAN community as one.”

Here are the national costumes of the member countries of the ASEAN:

Brunei Darussalam. On her: baju kebaya. On him: baju cara Melayu.

Cambodian Traditional Wedding Attire

The traditional Cambodian wedding would last three days, wherein each day represents the three jewels of Buddhism: Buddha, Sangha, and Dharma. In this modern age, the ceremony has been condensed within a single day, entailing several outfit changes in between.

Fabrics such as chong kiet (ikat silk) or hol (weft ikat or twill pattern silk) with highly ornate brocade are used for the attire, which consists of a requisite breast sash, sbai, for the bride and variations of the sampot (lower skirt garment) for both bride and groom.

Indonesian Surakarta Wedding Attire

Indonesian Surakarta Wedding Attire for females Riasan Gaya Solo

Riasan Gaya Solo is an intricate piece that includes a kebaya (long-sleeved tunic) in beludru satire design embellished with golden brocade. There is a special way of styling the hair using cudhuk metul (pins) symbolizing hope and good luck.

Indonesian Surakarta Wedding Attire for males


The male wedding attire from Surakarta includes a formal Javanese men’s shirt or beskap and biangkon, a traditional Javanese headdress. It is also very intricate and includes a skirt and jewelry.

Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR) Clothing Attire

Lao PDR costume for women

The traditional Lao PDR outfit for women is composed of a blouse, a wrap-around skirt, sinh, and a sash known as pha biang. The sinh is usually crafted from fine silk with woven symbols and embroidery patterns.

The traditional Lao PDR outfit for men is a long sleeved top made from raw silk or cotton paired with a billowed pant or wrap skirt, as well as pha biang.

Malaysian Attire. On her: Baju Kurung. On him: Baju Melayo

The loosely draped, long sleeved, collarless blouse is worn over a long skirt was a popular ensemble for the Malaysian women in Johor since the reign of Sultan Abu Bakar in the 1800s.

Directly translated as “Malay shirt”, baju melayo is made up of loose tunic with a cekak musang collar, worn with trousers, and a sarong tied around the waist. The tunic and trousers are usually made from the same material, while the sarong may be kain songket, a handwoven brocade fabric.

Myanmar Clothing Attire

The requisite daily wear for Myanma women includes a yinzi (blouse), a shawl, and a longyi cylindrical skirt that is locally termed as a htamein. To wear this entails stepping into the skirt, then tucking the cloth at the side of the waist with a single fold.

Mayanma men’s version of longyi or paso, is slipped over the head and worn at the waist, just below the navel, and neatly folded into two panels. Men also commonly wear a headpiece or turban called gaung baung.

Philippines National Costume. On her: baro’t saya. On him: barong Tagalog

Comprised of a camisa (blouse), saya (skirt), tapis (overskirt) and a panuelo (collared shawl), baro’t saya, the traditional ladies outfit in the Philippines, is worn throughout the country and is still used for special occasions today, often modified with oden alterations. This particular piece was designed by Patis Tesoro, renowned as “The Grand Dame of Philippine Fashion”. Crafted from abaca fabric, it is finished with patchwork of dancing ballerinas.

Baro’t Saya

Dancing ballerina patchwork on the overskirt

The barong Tagalog is considered the national formal attire for men in the Philippines, often used in weddings and official ceremonies. The long-sleeved dress shirt is worn with a cotton undershirt and trousers. It is traditionally crafted from piña (pineapple) fabric and features hand embroidery. When the fruit of the Red Bisaya pineapple is at its ripest, the leaves are carefully picked and scraped. It is then combed, rinsed, and beaten with a wooden paddle. Once air-dried, the fibers are meticulously connected by hand, producing long pieces of fine thread to use for the piña cloth.

Singapore’s Peranakan Attire

Peranakan women wear nyonya kebaya, a type of tailored, long-sleeved top that is highly colorful with floral embroidery. This is paired with a sarong, usually batik (wax-resist fabric) with Chinese of Malay motif. It is embellished with a kerosang or brooch and a cucuk sanggol or hairclip. The outfit is worn with a special shoe called kasot manek.

The modern male attire includes a batik shirt. There are different types of materials such as cotton or silk, depending on the occasion. Motifs vary although floral themes are more common. The national flower, Vanda Miss Joaquim, a type of orchid, is a popular design.

Thai National Costume. On her: Chut Thai. On him: Suea Phraratchathan

Chut Thai is rooted in ancient royal history, the traditional ladies outfit has been adopted for modern use in the latter part of the 20th century by Her Majesty, Queen Sirikit. Chut Thai is often intricately designed using gold thread and brightly colored silk fabrics. It consists of a phaa nung (hip wrap) or sinh (tubular skirt) and sabai (breast sash).

Chut Thai

Suea Phraratchathan, the national male attire of Thailand, literally means “royally bestowed shirt”. Designed by royal tailor in the 1970s with inspiration from earlier Nehru jacket, it has become a popular male jacket for formal occasions. It has five round buttons in the front with similar fabric to that of the jacket. Depending on the occasion, it can be worn as a short sleeve, long sleeve, or long sleeve with a sbai (sash).

Vietnamese National Attire

Áo Dài is Vietnamese national attire for women, and it is comprised of a long sleeve tunic and trousers of the same material. Intricate versions of these are finely crafted during Tết, or the Lunar New Year, and special ceremonies such as weddings. This piece includes a beautiful embroidered floral motif.

The original áo dài was first worn in southern Vietnam at the court of the Nguyễn Lords at Huế in the 18th century. It further evolved into a paneled gown, redesigned in the 1930s, and continually revamped after that. Today it is a tightly fit tunic compared to the Áo Dài of yesteryear and represents Vietnamese feminine beauty.

The Vietnamese attire for men is includes a long sleeved tunic worn above loose pantaloons.


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