Betawi Culture 101: Kebaya Encim
Abdul Qowi Bastian
Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo in December of last year decided that once a week, city officials would be compelled to dress in traditional Betawi attire as part of an effort to create a distinct identity and help preserve local Betawi culture.
This post elaborates a traditional Betawi costume worn by female in casual situations — called kebaya encim. Click here for sadariah, the Betawi male outfit.
Chinese culture plays a huge role in this particular design of kebaya, or traditional women’s blouse. Hence, the name “encim.” The embroidery bears flowery motifs on the front and its long-sleeves. The length of kebaya is fitted at the hip to exhibit the wearer’s physical beauty. The kebaya material is made of chiffon or cotton to absorb sweat.
While the motifs can be anything, most Betawi women prefer the pucuk rebung design for their sarongs. Pucuk rebung is a motif that is influenced by rebung, or bamboo shoots. The motifs slightly look like a diamond shape. Pucuk rebung is a popular design in traditional Betawi sarongs. Women opt for bright colors to match the kebaya encim.
As for the undergarment, Betawi women prefer to wear kutang nenek, or grandma’s bra. Apart from its main function to cover the breast, like corset, kutang nenek can also be used as a support for sarong.
Loafers in this whole outfit is preferably made from velvet. They are specifically made low-heeled to make the wearers more comfortable when walking.
Selendang, or shawl, is made from plain chiffon and must be matched with the color of kebaya. Historically, it is only used when the Betawi women go to Koran recital at mosque.