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Traditional Dress of Myanmar – Exploring the Heart of Myanmar's Culture

CEO Tinh Phung
The traditional costumes of Myanmar are not just clothing; they are a representation of the country's unique culture and warm hospitality. When you embark on Myanmar tours, you will be captivated by the simplicity and...

The traditional costumes of Myanmar are not just clothing; they are a representation of the country's unique culture and warm hospitality. When you embark on Myanmar tours, you will be captivated by the simplicity and charm of their traditional attire, which reflects the friendly and down-to-earth nature of the people.

A Glimpse into the History of Myanmar Traditional Dress

The roots of Burmese traditional dress date back to the 1750s, when those in positions of power designed stunning jewelry to accompany their attire. These exquisite outfits were worn in the Konbaung court. Women adorned themselves with floral head ornaments, intricately decorated blouses, felt footwear, and a htamein, which continues to be a popular choice among women today.

History of Myanmar National Dress Image: History of Myanmar national dress

Myanmar men, on the other hand, sported a turban, hnyat-phanat slippers, a silk jacket embellished with fur, and a cotton shirt. Towards the end of the British era, the arrival of Indian immigrants brought about slight alterations in the traditional attire, influenced by their own fashion. Thus, the rich tapestry of Myanmar's traditional costumes evolved, offering a range of options for both men and women.

The Allure of Myanmar Traditional Dress for Burmese Men

For Burmese men, the traditional attire consists of the longyi, a versatile garment that can be paired with a shirt or jacket called Taipon. The longyi is a sheet of cloth that measures approximately 2 meters in length and 80 centimeters in width. It is sewn into a cylindrical shape and worn from the waist to the feet, providing a perfect fit for each individual.

Myanmar Traditional Dress for Burmese Men Image: Myanmar traditional dress for Burmese men

The interesting aspect of the men's dress is that it is strapless and loose, which means that they often have to adjust the skirt and secure it tightly, even while walking down the street. However, since the longyi does not have pockets, it can be challenging to carry personal items like cash or a mobile phone. In such cases, a handbag or a bag becomes essential. The men's jacket typically has two layers, fabric buttons, and is worn in bright colors during the day, while black and dark colors are preferred for nighttime attire. The head is adorned with a white turban with a sharp, leaf-like protrusion.

The Elegance of Myanmar Traditional Dress for Burmese Women

Burmese women, on the other hand, adorn themselves with Thummy, their traditional clothing. It bears a resemblance to the traditional attire of Laos and Thailand, but without the turban-like headwear worn by men. Flip-flops are the footwear of choice for both Burmese men and women.

Myanmar Traditional Dress for Burmese Women Image: Myanmar traditional dress for Burmese women

While traditional outfits hold significant value in Myanmar, it is worth noting that many Myanmar people also incorporate European clothing into their wardrobes. On special occasions, you may find them dressed in suits and shoes. Essentially, the Burmese people mix and match their longyis with various other garments, such as T-shirts, shirts, jackets, and vests.

When and Where Myanmar People Embrace Traditional Clothes

Unlike traditional costumes in other countries, such as the Ao Dai of Vietnam, the Kimono of Japan, or the Hanbok of South Korea, which are typically reserved for special events and national festivals, the traditional dress of Myanmar is worn regularly in everyday life. Whether it's doing household chores, riding a motorbike, going to work, or even participating in sports competitions, Myanmar people proudly don their traditional attire. Several factors contribute to this:

  • The hot weather, with temperatures often reaching 40 degrees Celsius, makes the lightweight and breathable material of the traditional costumes ideal for everyday comfort.
  • The simplicity of the Burmese traditional costumes allows for easy integration with other garments, providing a practical and versatile wardrobe option.
  • The straightforward design and structure of the attire make it easy to put on and take off as needed in daily life. Additionally, these garments serve multiple functions. For instance, they can be pulled up to function as a makeshift raincoat or protection against harmful UV rays. Burmese women even use their longyis as stable carriers for fruits, rice bags, and food items, allowing them to carry a significant load without relying on their hands.

When Myanmar People Wear Traditional Clothes Image: When Myanmar people wear traditional clothes

You might wonder how people can work or engage in sports activities while wearing skirts. However, this question becomes irrelevant once you immerse yourself in the daily lives of the Burmese people. From taxi drivers to fishermen and farmers, everyone effortlessly navigates their longyis, sometimes adjusting them on the go. Even young soccer players vouch for the comfort of wearing longyis on the field, stating that it feels more comfortable than wearing pants.

The way the Burmese people embrace their traditional costumes is a reflection of their simple and unpretentious lifestyle. When tourists embark on Myanmar vacations, they will witness the absence of elaborate makeup among Burmese women, even on special occasions. Visitors will be enchanted by the simplicity, tranquility, and warm hospitality of the Myanmar people. Taking part in Myanmar tours and embracing the traditional costumes allows tourists to create unforgettable memories and truly experience the heart of Myanmar.

Where to Find Myanmar Dress & Traditional Costumes

Immersing yourself in Myanmar's culture includes the opportunity to wear Myanmar dress. Longyis and Thummies can be found in various stores across the country, catering to different quality and price points. One recommended location is the Kyal Sin Longyi Shop at I-20, Ground Floor, Yuzana Plaza in Yangon. Alternatively, you can explore the Bogyoke Aungsan Market, where you will find a wide range of designs to choose from.

The Journey of Myanmar National Costume - Embracing Modernity

In today's modern age, fashion has left its mark on longyis, with contemporary designs featuring slits at the sides, front, or back. Some Burmese people even wear false front flaps and fasten them with zippers on the side or back. However, the allure of the traditional tube-shaped cylinder remains strong, and both men and women continue to embrace the comfort it offers. The national costume of Myanmar, the longyi, has also caught the attention of foreigners, who can be seen confidently donning this fashionable garment.

Myanmar's traditional dress is more than just a piece of clothing. It embodies the essence of a nation, showcasing its rich culture and deeply ingrained traditions. When you embark on your Myanmar journey, make sure to fully embrace the experience by trying on the traditional costumes and immersing yourself in the warmth and authenticity of the local people.