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ISSN : 1226-0401(Print)
ISSN : 2383-6334(Online)
The Research Journal of the Costume Culture Vol.27 No.3 pp.264-273
DOI : https://doi.org/10.29049/rjcc.2019.27.3.264

The influence of traditional values on the development of fashion in Bali

Arini Arumsari†, Agus Sachari, Andryanto Rikrik Kusmara
Doctorate Program of Visual Art and Design, Institut Teknologi Bandung, Indonesia
Corresponding author (ariniarumsari@students.itb.ac.id)
May 17, 2019 June 25, 2019 June 26, 2019


Fashion as a field of cultural studies is a very complex field that is very interesting to discuss, especially in Indonesia as the very rich country in cultures and past traditions. This research will discuss the development of fashion in Bali, one area that is opulent in its cultures. Based on the research conducted by today’s fashion development, Bali is still strongly influenced by factors inherited from traditional values that exist in the Balinese culture. This research is conducted by applying the qualitative method with the ethnography approach to unravel any factor in Bali so that it becomes the foundation and triggers the rapid development of fashion by still maintaining the values of the tradition. Considering that the values of tradition as a whole have a good impact on the preservation of the natural balance and various factors that exist in society, whether these factors still exist in other regions of Indonesia and they are possible to be developed in various regions of Indonesia. So hopefully the development of fashion in Indonesia as a whole can maintain the local content that characterizes the Indonesian Nation and have a positive impact on the balance of nature and also to the community in Indonesia and the world culture.


    Ministry of Research Technology and Higher Education Republic of Indonesia

    I. Introduction

    Indonesia as the research site, geographically, is an archipelago that also makes the country consist of a number of tribes settling in the islands. The tribes have their own cultures which are interesting to discuss. Therefore, though this study is a study focused on fashion design, it is in line with the traditional values, particularly the tradition of Bali, one of the places in Indonesia of which the tradition is unique. The objectives and the importance of local content based study as employed in this study is to conserve the cultures within the development of lifestyles requiring different fields including fashion design to be more cosmopolitan that may blur its initial identity. It is expected that the result of the study can give some enrichment to one’s point of view that the values derived from the traditional culture are good and deserve some supports, particularly in terms of the development of fashion design in the future.

    Ⅱ. Literature Review

    The Balinese people are known as the Balinese ethnic or the Balinese. As an ethnic, the Balinese have characteristics of ethnic identity attached to themselves and their group. Bali Tourism Office defines the Balinese ethnic as a group of people who are bound by the awareness of unity both the Balinese local culture and the national culture. The sense of awareness of the unity of Balinese culture is reinforced by the unity of language, namely the Balinese language, the Hindu religion, and the unity of the history and cultural journey. Belief of Hiduism creates a variety of traditions, customs, cultures, arts, and so on that have distinctive characteristics, which are a combination of tradition and religion. In everyday life, these characteristics manifest themselves in various conceptions, social activities, and physical works of the Balinese (as cited in Arka, 2017; Geriya, 2008).

    The life of the Balinese Hindu community and every activity carried out primarily related to religious rituals is always accompanied by symbolic messages. The symbols in the Hindu sense are bound between Hindu values, Hindu theology, social behavior, and Hindu religious symbols (Nilotama, 2009). In their daily life, the behavior of the Balinese is based on the values of Hinduism and the philosophy of Tri Hita Karana. The growth and development of Hinduism (Hindu dharma) in Bali is fundamentally closely linked to the spread of Hinduism (India) in the Archipelago that is thought to go in the early AD (Poesponogoro, Notosusanto, & Sumadio, 1993; Soekmono, 1991).

    Hindu Dharma in the Balinese society covers on various aspects, namely: theological conception and religious value; socio religious order and religious relics in the form of material culture (tangible) such as temples and statues. The stronger influence of the Hindu culture is positively alleged by the change in their thinking patterns from the orality tradition of being more like, to the literacy tradition, thereby it enables the society to incise their historical stories in a state of calamity (PaEni, 2009a).

    Through the evidences of the writings of the Ancient Balinese (8th to 14th Century), even to the beginning of the 15th Century, it can be explained that the deeply rooted theological conception in the Hindu Darma society is the worship of the Gods - Goddesses, both derived from the Indian patheons as mentioned in Veda and the Purana books that are the Hindu Dharma scriptures, as well as the names of the Gods that stem from local beliefs known in Prehistoric times. Such religious understanding and appreciation have developed in the various religious sects. But at the same time, the worship of ancestral spirits that have been rooted since the Prehistoric Era also remains an intergral part of their theological conception and religious value system (PaEni, 2009a).

    The living philosophy of the Balinese people is Tri Hita Karana, that emphasizes the harmony and balance of life between man and man, man and the Creator, and man with his environment. These principles are internalized and institutionalized within the social structure of the Balinese society and become the Balinese way of life, both in developing the system of knowledge, patterns of behavior, attitudes, values, traditions, art, etc.

    In the end, the Tri Hita Karana philosophy becomes the ideology and core values in the Balinese life and culture. It is the ideology which then becomes the basis for the regulatory standards used by the main institutions, such as: sekaa (traditional organization), subak (irrigation organization) and pakraman village (traditional village governance system) in Bali, in evaluating the behavior of its members.

    Another authentic tradition that still exists in the Balinese culture is caste system. According to Atmojo’s research (as cited in Seraya, 1991), the caste system exists in Bali although it has many different ways in structure and function but has similarities with the caste system in India that is based on Hinduism as well. Caste division in Bali is divided into four castes (caturwarna), they are: Brahmana, Ksatrya, Waisya, and Sudra. This information is found in the copper inscriptions named “Bila II” dated 995 Saka (1073 AD) from the time of King Anak Wungsu.

    The next development by some experts in Bali is known as the terms of color and dynasty for caste system. Between the two terms, dynasty (wangsa) is more commonly used (Sudana & Bagus, 1979). Each dynasty has its own obligations (dharma), but the person who performs dharma in his dynasty as it appears to the Balinese people nowadays is virtually absent, except the dignity of Brahmana Dynasty (Wangsa Brahmana) to be priest or pedanda. Thus, it seems clear that the system of dynasty has undergone various changes gradually due to the influence of the modern culture through various channels as seen in the modern Balinese society (PaEni, 2009b).

    In the social system of the Balinese society, there are two classifications of Village, namely: Administration Village or Desa Dinas and Traditional Village or Desa pakraman. I Dewa Made Suartha (2015) explains that Desa pakraman is a village where the citizens perform their customs and religion in their community life.

    The term of Desa pakraman was officially used for the first time in Bali Provincial Regulation No.3/ 2001 on Desa pakraman that was established on March 21st, 2001. In Article 1 Sub-article 4 of Law Number 3 Year 2001, it is explained that Desa pakraman is a unit of customary law community in Bali Province that has a unity of tradition of manners of social interaction of Hindu community from generation to generation in the bond of “Three Heaven” or “Kahyangan Tiga” that has certain territory and its own property and has the right to take care of its own household.

    Kahyangan Tiga is the implementation of the Tri Murti doctrine, that is worshiping of the three major gods in regulating the human life cycle, namely birth, life, death in which everyone will experience these stages. The gods are mentioned as follows:

    1. Dewa Brahma (Lord Brahma), that is the manifestation of God Almighty or Ida Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa in his duty as the creator and his palace is in Village Temple or Bale Agung.

    2. Dewa Wisnu (Lord Wisnu), that is the manifestation of God Almighty in his duty as the keeper and his palace is in Puseh Temple or Segara Temple.

    3. Dewa Siwa (Lord Siwa), that is the manifestation of God Almight in his duty as pemralina or the returner to its origin and his palace is in Dalem Temple.

    Ⅲ. Methods

    In this research, some factors that underlie the development of fashion in Bali until the latest development will be presented in the structured manner in several stages (Fig. 1). The first stage is an explanation of the system of the Balinese belief and culture. After that, it will be presented the development of the traditional Balinese cloth and fashion as the product of Balinese culture and the form of the compliance of Balinese people in running their belief. Furthermore, the traditional fabrics and clothing are developed into the inspiration in the development of fashion in Bali. In the end of the research, it will be explained how these factors have a role to the development of the products of fashion designers and fashion brands in Bali.

    The steps of the study above are conducted using qualitative study with ethnography approach. As the background of the study, the secondary data are obtained from the literature study towards different books, scientific journals, proceedings and research reports which are related to the study. Furthermore, the primary data collection is conducted through direct field observation to Bali, particularly to the fashion, clothing and traditional fabric centers. In order to have some recent data on the development of fashion in Bali as well as its relation to Balinese traditional culture, the study also involves interviews with some experts in culture, traditional fabric artists, as well as Balinese fashion designers.

    Ⅳ. Result and Discussion

    According to Arifah A. Riyanto, clothes or in Indonesian called busana in the specific sense is textile material that is enclosed or sewn first that is worn to cover the body of a person that directly attaches to the skin or that does not directly stick to the skin (Riyanto & Zulbahri, 2009).

    When historically viewed from its development of the Indonesian culture, the development of clothing is closely related with textile products or more precisely textile craft in Indonesia. This is because from the ancient times in Indonesia, textile was the main material in fashion. The development of textile craft in Bali is very rich and complex. In Bali there are various traditional textile products used for daily clothing as well as ceremonial events. Some have an important role in transition rites, tooth cutting ceremony, wedding and funeral ritual as well as ceremonies that are held to honor ancestors and to beg help from deities. In addition, textiles are also the part of ritual offering made for a temple.

    On the observation made, the process of making traditional fabrics ranging from cotton processing to weaving this cloth is an important thing in the history of the Balinese life. Due to the main museums in Bali, there are artifacts of making cloths as the evidence that the weaving activity is one of the important activities undertaken by the Balinese besides agricultural activities (Fig. 2).

    Based on ikat Weaving Book: Indonesia’s Weaving ikat Tradition made by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Indonesia in 2010, the most popular fabrics in Bali are endek and geringsing cloth. Endek fabric is made with the technique of ikat weaving on the thread of yarn. It is usually made in the blend of bright colors like green, blue, yellow, purple, red and others, so most of coloring processes of endek fabric use chemical dyes to get the bright colors. The motifs shown on endek fabricare usually floral and geometric motifs and they are now more varied with various influences from the Chinese, Indian, or other cultures from other regions of Indonesia. Products made from endek fabric are usually sarong fabrics for men and women, long cloths are made with larger sizes to be made into clothing.

    Meanwhile geringsing fabric is made in Tenganan Village, using the technique of double-ikat and it seems more classical compared with endek fabric which is made by using natural dyes (Fig. 3). So, the colors on geringsing fabrics are mostly red, brown, yellow, and purplish red. The motifs made on it are full of philosophical and sacred values (Fig. 4). They are often from puppet stories, mythology or derived from the teachings of Hinduism. So, geringsing fabric has a function that is also more sacred as in the ritual dance in Tenganan Village, as the headgear in the tooth cutting ceremony (Fig. 5), as the cover of the coffin at the ngaben ceremony and also as ceremony complements at Temple.

    In addition to the two woven fabrics mentioned before, there is also poleng cloth, a textile product that is a typical fabric from Bali. poleng cloth is a white and black fabric, when visually viewed at a glance, it is plainly patterned (Fig. 6). We can usually see it wrapped around a tree or a sacred stone or on custom ceremonial equipment.

    Then, there is also cepuk fabric in Bali (Fig. 7 and 8). It is a cloth used as a complement to traditional ceremonies used in the Balinese Hindu ceremonies that have higher power or energy. Cepuk means ‘to meet with’, that is meant to meet with other power or energy. For example, a dancer in the form of Batari Durga named Rangga usually wears cepuk fabric because he will meet the Barong, the great energy. It can be used for various functions, namely as upper clothes (kemben), as inner fabric (tapih), as a base for offering (tatakan), as ceiling, decorating temple and bade (stretcher for corpse), closing the body, and the other various functions at the Manusa Yadna ceremony. Cepuk cloth is primarily used at the beginning and end of a ceremony to ensure the safety of the ceremony (Puniari, 2013).

    The following is the chart (Fig. 9) of the classifications of the Balinese traditional fabrics and their use:

    Along with the time up to now, these cloths are experiencing various developments. If at first the cloths were only used in accordance with the interests of traditional ceremonies and religious rituals, now they are widely used for clothing and fashion clothing. It can be seen that today many parties like fashion designers, clothing manufacturers or public are using traditional fabrics as the main material or the one part of clothing. Some of many parties understand that the traditional cloths, especially the Balinese traditional cloths, have philosophical and even sacred values so they cannot be haphazardly used. But most others do not understand and most of the main reasons for the interests in using these traditional fabrics are only due to an aesthetic factor. These Balinese fabrics such as Endek, Geringsing, and Cepuk are considered beautiful and have the high aesthetic value to be used as fashion.

    The sense of busana according to the Big Dictionary Book is clothing or clothes. Clothing in the specific sense is textile material that is enclosed or sewn first that is worn to cover the body of a person and it immediately attaches the skin or that does not directly stick to the skin.

    When historically viewed from its development of the Indonesian culture, the development of clothing is closely related with textile products or more precisely textile craft in Indonesia. This is because from the ancient times in Indonesia, textile is the main material in fashion.

    Here is the chart (Fig. 10) of the traditional Balinese clothing classifications that is in accordance with its usefulness:

    It is based on the usability classification and how to use it. As a function to cover body, the ways of original use of traditional cloth are usually used by being wrapped or tied to the body. In its original use, it is very rare to find traditional fabrics cut out or made with clothing patterns and then sewn as done in the practice of today’s fashion-making. Based on the observations during the research, the other thing underlying these traditional fabrics to be processed by making pattern - being cut - then being sewn back is that the traditional fabrics are made very manually. The raw materials of the traditional fabrics are fibers and natural dyes derived from the natural resources available in the local areas that are processed gradually and long. After preparing the raw materials, fabric fabrication techniques are also done by manual weaving techniques with a non-machine loom that also takes long process. So, it is very unfortunate if the fabrics that have been processed and made with a long process with the high craftmanship are then processed by cutting or being made a certain pattern that will produce waste materials.

    In the further development, the use of traditional cloths as fashion keeps growing as a fashion trend. The fashion development in Bali in the modern times develops rapidly, it is because the culture of the Balinese and the rich natural beauty keep inspiring the fashion practicioners to continue working. The fashion development in Bali is also supported by the foreigners and tourists who come to Bali as the popular tourist destination in the world. So that this matter makes Bali a promising market for a variety of growing industries, including fashion. As one of the case studies on the development of fashion in Bali, it will be discussed about the use of the traditional Balinese fabrics and also decorations at Bali Fashion Week. It is an event that includes a series of events featuring the Indonesian fashion designers, the manufacturers of clothings, accessories and also fabrics that will use Bali natural attractions as the international tourist destination to attract potential buyers from all around the world and make Bali as one of the world fashion cities. In Indonesia some cities such as Jakarta, Bandung, Yogjakarta, and Jember have started to make ‘Fashion Week’ as one of their annual agenda (Warta Ekspor, 2013). Every region holding fashion week has a vision with the fashion week in these cities, it seems to be a claim that the cities or regions can be like Paris, Milan, Tokyo, and London that become the center of the world fashion.

    In the implementation of the Bali Fashion Week, overall it is felt very much the content of the typical Balinese culture (Fig. 11 and 12). For example, it is different from Jogja Fashion Week that is dominated by the use of cloths and ornaments of batik at various collections of fashion products presented, Bali Fashion Week is dominated by the use of traditional Balinese fabrics and also typical Balinese ornaments in the form of prada and poleng.

    Ⅴ. Conclusion

    Based on the discussion above and based on the results of research on the development of fashion in Bali, there is still a very strong influence of traditional Balinese values. The practices in maintaining the traditional values in the fashion development in Bali are mentioned as follows:

    1. Selecting fiber and natural coloring material as raw materials for making traditional fabrics in Bali is still used in the process of making fabrics that are the materials for making fashion products nowadays.

    2. Fabric craftsmen in Bali are still maintaining fabric-making techniques or structure textile design techniques that are used, namely manual weaving technique with frame treadle loom which were initially carried out by the surrounding community to meet their clothing needs.

    3. On various occasions, the technique of wearing cloth used as clothing is by wrapping around or being tied to the body. This method is in accordance with traditional Balinese dress. The way of wearing such cloth can avoid cutting fabric.

    4. At today’s various Balinese fashion products, there are still many applied ornaments and decorations from traditional Balinese fabric that have high aesthetic values and are also full of philosophical values. Although in its development such as in the Balinese Fashion Week and other modern fashion platforms, the use of such ornaments and ornamental variety is more due to its aesthetical value in which the Balinese traditional ornaments are very distinctive and beautiful.

    5. Overall, the spiritual Balinese values are “Tri Hita Karana” which is one of the concepts in which human must maintain the balance of nature that is still held firmly by the Balinese people in general in various ways of life including how to dress. Its implementation is in how to dress, for instance by using methods, which are more environmentally friendly in the process of producing fabrics and fashion products.

    6. In addition, the Balinese social system in the form of pakraman Village that is distinctive and different from the most of other Indonesian communities allows to keep maintaining the traditional values in the Balinese society, including in dress. This is due to the social order, in the daily life of Balinese people it is routinely performed various rituals of religious ceremonies and cultural activities that require the Balinese to wear traditional clothing in accordance with applicable rules.



    Stages of data explanation


    Weaving equipment of the Balinese at Semarajaya Museum in Klungkung and Bali Museum in Denpasar Photographed by the author. (July 11, 2017).


    Geringsing fabric from Tenganan Village with cicempaka motif From Kartiwa. (2010). p. 61.


    Geringsing fabric worn by the Tenganan Village girls From Kartiwa. (2010). p. 62.


    Geringsing fabric for cushion cover at the ceremony of cutting teeth From Puniari. (2013). p. 31.


    Ancient poleng fabric From Wrońska-Friend. (2015). p. 27.


    Cepuk fabric used on bade or stretcher for corpse From Puniari (2013). p. 29.


    Detail of Cepuk fabric From Kartiwa. (2007). p. 86.


    Classification of Balinese traditional fabric


    Classification of Balinese traditional clothes


    Bali Fashion Week 2008 From Bali discovery. (2008). http://www.balidiscovery.com


    Bali Fashion Week 2017 From What’s new Bali. (2017). http://www.whatsnewbali.com



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