Asia and the Pacific

On the Asian continent, where the climate extends from tropical to Arctic, garment types range from wrapped to cut-and-sewn examples. Throughout India, women wrap six to nine yards of unstitched fabric in specific styles to fashion the wrapped garment called the sari, which is ordinarily worn with a blouse (called a choli). Many styles of wrapping the sari exist that distinguish different ethnic backgrounds within India. Indian men wrap from two to four yards of fabric to fashion garments called lungi and dhoti that they wear around their lower body. Among the Hill Tribes of Thailand, Hmong women wear a blouse and skirt with an elaborate silver necklace, an apron, a turban-type head covering, and wrapped leg coverings. In the steppe lands of Asia (for example, Mongolia), tailored garments of jacket and trousers are worn with caps and boots. In China, types of dress have changed over time, in relationship to contact with other peoples. Turks, Mongols, Manchus, and other peoples of China's Central Asian and northern borderlands sometimes influenced the cut and style of tailored garments in China itself. The fitted, one-piece women's garment with mandarin collar and side-slit skirt known as a cheongsam, or qipao, was invented in Shanghai in the 1920s as a garment that was acceptably both "Chinese" and "modern." Its use declined in the People's Republic of China after the late 1950s, but it continued to be worn in Chinese communities outside the mainland and is widely regarded as the "ethnic dress" of Chinese women. In Japan, variations of the garment known as kimono are cut and sewn, as well as wrapped. The kimono's body and sleeves are formed by stitching textiles together, but the body of the garment wraps around the human form and is secured by a sash known as the obi. The Korean ensemble called a hanbok includes a skirt for women and pants for men that are cut and sewn, but the top garment, a jacket for both men and women, is called chogori and wraps across the breast.

In Indonesia, cloth (kain) is wrapped around the lower body for both women and men, and is worn with a blouse (kebaya) or a shirt (baju). Another option for clothing the lower body is the sarong, cloth sewn to make a tubular garment. (This word was borrowed by Hollywood to refer to the wrapped garment worn by Hedy Lamarr and Dorothy Lamour that also covers the breasts. Among many of the peoples of Indonesia, the latter style is regarded as highly informal, worn for example by women on their way to the bathing pool.) Bare feet or various types of sandals and slippers are worn with these garments.

On many of the islands of the Pacific, such as Samoa and Hawaii, the wrapped garment is called a pareo. The long, shapeless dress called a muumuu, or robe mission ("mission dress"), introduced by missionaries to clothe women who traditionally were only lightly dressed, is now widely accepted as a form of ethnic dress throughout the Pacific islands. Elaborate feathered headdresses are worn in many parts of New Guinea with few other body coverings. At the time of European arrival in Australia, Aborigine dress consisted of animal skin cloaks, belts, and headbands along with body piercings, scarification, and body paint. Tattooing various parts of the body has been common among many groups in the Pacific, such as the Maori people of New Zealand and some groups of Japanese.

Because of extensive colonization in Asia and the Pacific, Europeans influenced garments and accessories of indigenous people. In return, the colonizers were influenced by exposure to Asian types of dress and borrowed or modified Asian garments, such as the cummerbund, the pajama, and bandannas, into both everyday and formal dress, thus culturally authenticating them.

0 0

Post a comment