What is a national Costume?
It is normally a dress which we associate with a country and its residents. It is something that they may wear everyday or only on formal occasions, but it is part of their unique identity and is usually symbolic of their culture. Most national costumes have been a part of the heritage of that nation and have been handed down from generation to generation, and are based on the kinds of fabrics available and are suited to the climate of that country.
1. Saree – India:
This is one of the most recognised costumes in the world. The prevalence of sarees as a daily wear is decreasing among the young and the affluent, as they are opting for western wear such as skirts and trousers. However in the smaller urban areas and in villages these are still the preferred outfit. In various parts of India sarees are worn in different manners and styles and the fabrics can range from cotton to silk and synthetic fabrics.
2. Kimono – Japan:
Kimono is a traditional outfit worn by men, women and children in Japan. These are traditionally made with a single bolt of fabric called the tan. Often these are hand-made and had-decorated and the materials commonly used are silk crepes, satin weaves, silk and silk brocade. It is a long, heavily patterned robe, which is held together at the waistline by a broad fabric belt known as the obi.
The Swedish national costume is very unique. It consists of a white winged hat, a long skirt with a traditional apron, a white long-sleeved blouse which is covered with a beautifully embroidered vest. Introduced in 1778 it was originally meant for the nobility of the country. Even today for formal occasions, Swedish ladies-in-waiting wear this traditional costume.
4. Deel – Mongolia:
A Deel is the traditional costume worn for centuries by the Mongols and other nomadic tribes of Central Asia. The fabric may be satin or silk or brocade, and the styling is similar to that of a kaftan . Shaped like a long overcoat, it is not buttoned in front of the body but is drawn tightly across the chest and clasped on the side with decorative clasps. A large fabric belt is the tied over the Deel.
5. Salwar Kameez – Pakistan:
The salwar kameez is a traditional outfit worn by both men and women of Punjab in India and Pakistan. The men in Pakistan wear a loose pajama and “kurta ” set often known as the “pathan suit”. The women wear long trousers which are gathered at the waist and are narrow at the bottom. The kameez is accompanied by the “chuni”or the “odhni “which is wrapped across the shoulders.
6. Jellabiya – Egypt:
This is a traditional Arab garment native to the Persian Gulf region, worn by women as a casual dress. For formal occasions they wear more elaborate ones embellished with beautiful embroidery and patterns. For the men a similar outfit is also worn, but it is much simpler in design. One of the world’s oldest national costumes, during weddings the bride wears a heavily embroidered and patterned Jellabiya.
7. Baju Melayu & Naju Kurung – Malaysia:
This is a traditional costume worn by the Malays and has its origins in many centuries of Malaysian history. Worn in different styles through the different regions, it basically consists of a skirt and blouse, worn as a full length dress.
8. Croatian National Costume:
Since most Croatians have adopted Western dresses as their daily wear, the Croatian National Dress is worn only on formal occasions. For the ladies it basically has a plain white dress and a blouse and underskirt, which have other accessories attached to them such as jacket, apron, kerchiefs or shawls. Their hair is interwoven into braids and has white or red ribbons.
9. Kaftan – Senegal:
The Senegalese kaftan is an ankle length garment with long bell sleeves. Worn with a kufi cap, these are the common attire for most men in the Western African region. They can be made of cotton or silk or even of lace and synthetic fabrics.
10. Thai National Costume:
Known as chut Thai phra ratcha niyom, literally translated as Thai dress of royal endorsement, it is of relatively recent origin, since it has only been popularised in the mid twentieth century by the Royal family. Based on traditional and ancient dresses, they have now become very popular.