Dress and Grooming
Most older Balinese women wear a 'kain' or 'sarung' and 'kebaya' wrapped artfully around their slim bodies. Men wear bright 'sarung' as well. Among the young girls, jeans and T-shirt are the latter day 'sarung' or 'kebaya'.
Ceremonial dress is elaborate and employs a number of precious textiles: hip cloths (kamben) extending from waist to ankle, ribbon-like belts (sabuk), and tightly bound chest cloths (anteng). Shoulder cloths (selendang) are only worn in the Old Balinese villages of Tenganan and Trunyan.
The custom of appearing topless was discouraged when Europeans began arriving in numbers in the 1930s. Formerly, women were always naked to the waist in public-only prostitutes wore blouses. In the 1950s, with Indonesia's newfound revolutionary fervor, tourists were forbidden to snap photos of bare breasts, cameras and film were confiscated, the women themselves fined. Today Balinese women wear bras like Western women wear bikini tops.
Women have long, silky, black hair, which they tie in a number of ways around the head, without use of hairpins, or interweave with scarves. Unmarried women often sport a loose lock of hair hanging down the back over one shoulder with a 'gonjer' (flower) dangling in it. Hair can also be rolled inside itself in a great puff, held in place by a few separated strands.
Many Balinese women had their ears pierced when they were children. Women delouse each other and their children as a social pastime and an affirmation of familial love.
Occasionally, you see children with the traditional clipped short hair but for a single lock hanging down in front; the Balinese believe the child will become ill if this lock is cut.
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