A rectangle of decorative cloth wrapped or tied around the waist and falling almost to the floor, the sarong is the most commonly worn item of clothing in Bali. The more beautiful sarongs are like wearable pieces of art.

The sarong is worn by both men and women, and different tying methods as well as colours indicate the sex of the wearer, with subdued, earthy tones for men and brighter colours for women.

Nowadays sarongs are used for all kinds of purposes: as shawls, wall-hangings, or throws over furniture, to cover swimsuits on the beach or for carrying babies. Most importantly, they are an essential item when visiting a temple – see ‘Traditional Dress’ and ‘Local Etiquette’.

You’ll see sarongs on sale everywhere in Ubud, usually in batik, with check, geometric, animal and flower patterns. Prices vary hugely according to the material used, usually cotton or silk, and the degree of work and skill involved.