According to the National Heritage Council of Singapore (NHB), this is Singapore’s first multinational registration involving four countries.
However, NBH also invites other countries to participate in the registration of kebaya as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Not that they weren’t invited, some parties still believe kebaya is authentic Indonesian culture, so they prefer Indonesia not join other countries.
If we trace its history, kebaya entered Indonesia through the spice trade route in the archipelago.
“The literature in circulation states that there are many versions regarding the entry of kebaya into Indonesia. Some say that kebaya entered the archipelago from the 12th century, others from the 15th century.”
This was explained by the kebaya activist and Head of the Indonesian Women’s Wear in the Kebaya (PBI), Atie Nitiasmoro kompas.comFriday (11/25/2022) evening.
Atie also said that some publications mention that kebaya comes from Arab culture.
“Because at that time the women of the archipelago were still naked or wearing only the kemben, they ended up wearing a shawl to cover their chest, which comes from the word abaya,” she explained.
“There is also literature that writes that kebaya is from Portugal, even the word kebaya itself is an absorption word from the word ‘kabaja’. Some say it is from China,” he explained.
Over time, the kebaya that entered Indonesia started acculturating with the local community which then spread to various regions, mainly in Java or Majapahit kingdom.
“From what was originally worn by royalty or royalty, later kebaya can be worn by ordinary people as well,” Atie said.
“The only thing that sets it apart is the material for the kebaya. For the nobility the material is better, there are velvet and silk, but for the common people they use cotton or mori cloth,” he explained.
Then, continues Atie, the Dutch who came to Indonesia also wore kebaya.
However, because the kebaya has finally been adapted to their style of wearing lace on the edge of the kebaya or what is often called noni kebaya.
Atie said that kebaya is actually a cultural sharing of various countries in the ASEAN region
“The countries of ASEAN able to all related from. So what is called culture is also fluid, so it is impossible for us to say that kebaya belongs only to Indonesia,” she explained.
According to him, the registration of kebaya in UNESCO is not national identity or national pridebut about culture sharing so that culture does not die out.
Even if its use is not as numerous or massive as in Indonesia, these four countries have proven that they have kebaya.
“Never mind the museums, whose names are kebaya literature or magazines, Malaysia is much more comprehensive.”
“In Indonesia there are, but most of them are written by foreigners, those written by our own people are still very limited,” he added.
Preserving kebaya through social media
In addition to participating in the kebaya registration with UNESCO, Atie also hopes that more young people can preserve the current kebaya through social media.
“The procedure for registering kebaya or cultural items in UNESCO takes a long time”
“Even if we participate in the registration, at most only two kebayas can be brought, namely the long tail kebaya and the design kebaya which have been registered with the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Indonesia (WBTB),” said Atie.
“So, an easy way to preserve kebaya for the younger generation really needs the help of celebrities or young celebrities to invite the millennial and below generation to be more interested in wearing kebaya,” she explained.
Also, Atie added, wearing kebaya is not allowed complicated with norm.
Why, this is what then makes young people less interested or lazy to wear kebaya.
“Several designers in Indonesia, for example Lenny Agustin, have modern, dynamic and very youth-friendly kebaya designs,” Atie said.
Of“The biggest thing is how this young generation wants to go first, like first, love first, so they can definitely dig deeper into what the standards are like,” she said firmly.
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