King Baba and Bibinge, Wooden Clothes a la Borneo

King baba and king bibinga are two of Dayak traditional clothes.

King baba and king bibinge are two of Dayak traditional clothes. Photo from

Can you believe if I say there are kind of clothes made of tree? Well, whatever your answer is, this is the fact. People in Borneo for long time has built some intimate relationship with the woods. Not only their houses are made of wood, but their traditional clothes too.

Take king baba and king bibinge as examples.

King who? No, no. They have nothing to do with any kingdom. “King” here is Dayak language, means loincloth. While “baba” means male, and “bibinge” means female.

West Bornean people are made and worn these wooden clothes for centuries. Yes, in the hands of creative people, even a wood skin can be a fabric for loincloth, blanket, etc. Such skill has been handed down to generations in West Borneo.

How to make king baba and king bibinge, by the way?

Usually, they use kapuo or ampuro wood skin. Generally say, they peel the tree to take its skin. Then, they repeatedly hit that wood skin in the water until it becomes soft. Almost as soft as a fabric. Next is the normal process to tailor a clothes.

But there are some difference between male and female clothes. King baba consist of head cover decorated by hornbill leather, trousers, and belt between the knees and clothes. While female one (king bibinge) consists of clothes to cover breast, cummerbund, clothes with hornbill leather as head decoration, beads, and necklace.

The use of some West Bornean traditional clothes also depend on what kind of activity she or he attends.

However, there are also other Bornean traditional clothes: king maniks, tajung batabur, dabal, indulu batabur, kamprio, king kabo, indulu kalit kayu tempo, indulu manik, king tatak, tajug kaen kampo, bulangmalahalangke, bulang ara, baju burung, bulang uri, bulang bidang, king bidan, ming batabur, etc. Some of them are woven clothes.

If you think woven clothes does only come from West Lesser Sunda, you are wrong. Dayak people also skillful to produce woven cloth. In the modern era, they use yarn fiber from tengang wood skin.

But nowadays, the original of Dayak traditional clothes starts to be swept aside. Alas.

So, if you one day visit some place in West Borneo, I suggest you to buy these exotic items as fashion collection items. By doing that, at least, you help them to keep on producing these exotic ethnic clothes.

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About Rie Yanti

Has a bachelor degree from Padjadjaran University in French Literature Studies. She has been writing since her childhood and has produced both short stories and poetry. Rie loves writing about animals and small things that happen in her life. She has published three books, Satin Merah (GagasMedia 2010), Bukan Manusia (Lulu 2011), game Precious Time (Nusa Project 2017), et cetera.

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