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Understanding the philosophy of sanggul and kebaya


Chaulan Fatrysa Shintamy, cultural preservationist of Sanggul Nusantara

Jakarta, IO – Chaulan “Ulan” Fatrysa Shintamy can hardly wait for July 24, 2024, to celebrate the first commemoration of the National Kebaya Day, which was issued in Presidential Decree 19/2023. “Kebaya” is Indonesia’s traditional upper garment that comes in various models, depending on the region from which they come. Currently, kebaya is awaiting UNESCO’s decision as Indonesia’s intangible cultural heritage. On Kebaya Day, Indonesian women will have the chance to wear their best kebaya

Graduating from the London School of Public Relations Jakarta, Ulan holds a Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations and a Master’s Degree in Marketing Communication. Ulan embarked on her journey of cultural preservation, especially in Sanggul Nusantara, in 2020. She educates and promotes a variety of “sanggul” (traditional hair bun) not only to the Indonesian people but also worldwide. 

Ulan realized that it would not be a walk in the park. Thus, she started by learning about different types of sanggul and how to wear them. 

“I was expected to understand the philosophy of sanggul and how the different types of sanggul must be worn and presented properly according to the culture and origin of the ancestors, including the traditional outfits that adhere to local customs,” added Ulan. 

Ulan’s love of Indonesian heritage and despair at the way Indonesian culture is being slowly abandoned were the drives that pushed her to wear kebaya and sanggul daily and at (business) meetings. “As we wear them, we need to understand the value and philosophy of each cultural object,” she said. 

Chaulan Fatrysa Shintamy
(Source: Special)

Ulan became more inspired to wear kebaya, especially every Tuesday, after seeing pictures of her late grandmother’s kebaya and kain jarik (traditional Javanese cloth). Indonesia now has a “Tuesday in Kebaya” theme, the perfect day for those who want to learn to wear kebaya regularly. 

“I’m trying to inspire people, especially the millennial and younger generations, to wear kebaya in their daily activities. My goal is that (people wear it) not only for a trend or fashion,” said Ulan. She expects people to wear kebaya and sanggul as their daily attire, not only for special events such as wedding receptions, weddings and graduations. 

In Indonesia, kebaya and sanggul are identical to special occasions, so some people may find it odd to see them worn as everyday wear. However, kebaya and sanggul have always been Indonesian traditions. Therefore, Indonesian women must wear them proudly to preserve this tradition amid the rapid modernization and the bombardment of foreign culture through music, which has become increasingly popular among young people. 

While working as a private employee, Ulan is also active in cultural organizations that promote kebaya and sanggul. She is the public relations officer for the National Sanggul Enthusiasts (PSN) and the chairwoman of Sixers in Kebaya. 

Read: “I Still Love Indonesia”

PSN is a women’s community that loves the traditional sanggul and is committed to preserving this cultural heritage. It is also one of the communities promoting National Kebaya Day. PSN is a registered organization based on the Law and Human Rights Ministerial Decree dated November 18, 2022. 

One of PSN’s regular educational activities is the Sanggul Nusantara Festival, which is held annually in six cities. This year, it will be held in Jakarta, Solo, Yogyakarta, Semarang, Surabaya and Tabanan (Bali). 

Meanwhile, Sixers in Kebaya is part of the Senior High School (SMA) 6 Jakarta alumni association, called the Sixerhood. This community accommodates SMA 6 graduates who care about Indonesian culture, especially kebaya, batik and other traditional clothing. The Sixers in Kebaya also actively educates the culture of kebaya to SMA 6 students. (Astrid Noveira/Roosyudhi Priyanto)


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