Buddhism is the most common religion in Thailand. You can see lots of Buddhist monks in this country, wearing their distinctive traditional saffron-colored robes. They are plain in cut and design but, actually, these clothes aren’t that simple at all. First of all, you’ll be surprised as to what fabric is used to make a Buddhist robe. So, let’s get a closer look and find out how do Thai monks wear their regular garments.
Nowadays, Buddhist monks wear robes made from donated or purchased fabrics. But originally, they were to use so-called “pure” cloth. It meant the fabric that no one wanted – spoiled by fire, childbirth, menstrual blood, rats, used to wrap dead bodies before cremation, etc. The monks had to find such cloth in the trash, wash it, dye, and sew clothing out of it. They dyed the fabric with natural herb, bark, or flower dyes. And that’s how it got its specific color, because such herbs as turmeric, saffron, curry, cumin, and paprika were typically used.
The robe consists of 3 main parts:
- an undergarment called “tricivara”, similar to sarong. It covers the lower body – from the navel to below the knees;
- an undergarment called “antarvasa” for the top part of the body. It covers one shoulder, the chest, and belly;
- the main piece called “uttarasanga”. A large rectangular piece of cloth draped over the undergarments. Usually, this item is 4 x 9 ft (120 x 275 cm) long.
How to drape a Buddhist monk’s robe
There are two sides to the robe. We mark the inside of the robe and then divide the fabric around us.
Hold the 2 ends of the robe in front. And roll both fabrics together in, towards the body.
When there is no more fabric left, put your shoulders inside.
Hold one arm in the air and roll the remaining loose fabric towards the body.
This is how we wear the robe in the temple.