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It is hard to imagine how a simple rectangle of material can turn into an elegant and comfortable garment just with a few wraps, a twist and a tie.  If you run into such a treasure in your travels, you have probably just encountered the fascinating and exotic sarong!  This is probably the most basic way to cover one's body and all you need is the single piece of cloth. 

"Sarong" is the name used in Indonesia to describe this rectangular garment.  However, this piece of clothing is well known in many parts of the world and has been used since ancient times.  We find these types of garments ranging from Africa where it is called a 'Kango' to the South Pacific, where the name for this type of garment is 'pareo'.  The garment also shows up in India, and all the way back to ancient Greece and Rome.  In fact, the word “toga” is one associated with the infamous sarong! 

Traditional clothing can tell us a lot about the history of the place as well as the culture.  There is a very old sarong, found in Gujarat and dating back to the 14th or 15th century, which had a very significant batik design.  The design was of Jain ladies; Jainism is a sect of Hinduism, the predominant religion of India.  The significance of finding this special sarong was the knowledge that Indonesia was trading with India long before the European spice trade began. 

Sarongs are worn by both men and women, and are about 45 by 75 inches in dimension.  Sarongs can be worn like skirts, dresses, and shawls.  You could even make simple pants out of them by pulling the material up from between your legs and fastening it as part of knot.  A sarong can be turned into a dress by fastening the ends around your neck, halter style. 

No wonder the sarong is so popular and worn daily by millions of people since there are so many different fashion looks that can be achieved with this simple cloth rectangle.  Another clear advantage of this simple garment is how easy it is to tailor to the individual person wearing it - simply change the size of the rectangle to fit. 

In Indonesia, sarongs are frequently made from batik fabric of which Indonesia is so well known.  The process of 'batik' is actually a textile art form that uses wax to protect areas of the fabric that the artist does not want colored.  Batik patterns are intricate and colorful and so are the sarongs made of these fabulous materials. 

A sarong is not difficult to wear once you get the hand of it.  The first step is to wrap the material of the sarong around your body.  Depending on the occasion, you might want to wear it around your chest like a dress or around your hips or waist like a skirt or bathing suit cover-up.  That is a popular use for today's sarongs, by the way! 

Next, you will grab the two corners of the sarong and tie it loosely in a square knot.  There are very fancy ways to finish off the ends once tied.  The simplest thing to do is to make sure that the right side of the fabric shows on the ends hanging out of the knot. 

You can twist the sarong around on your body so that the tie is on the side or the back.  Just remember that there are no rules about always having to tie the sarong in the front.  In truth, when it comes to the way in which you can wear a sarong, the possibilities are endless.


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