The importance of this Balinese headdress for the local religious ceremonies is bigger and more interesting than you might think. White udeng headpiece is worn by Indonesian men when they’re worshiping their gods in the temples – it covers the head and prevents people from losing hairs in these sacred places, which is considered the violation of a temple. So, udeng is much more than just a traditional headwear in Bali. What else curious and symbolic features does the udeng headscarf has?
An udeng is a folk headdress in Bali. The local men wear it even today in their daily life and for various special occasions. Every male – from little boy to elderly man – can wear it and proudly does it.
This headpiece is a little bit similar to a turban but the draping is different. It is made from half a meter of fabric (usually cotton but other cloth can be used as well) that is wrapped around the head in a specific way. The udeng is sold already formed and sewn together, so you don’t have to worry about draping it correctly. But a craftsman needs to be skilled to create an udeng of the right shape. That’s why usually, these headdresses are produced in certain areas and then distributed throughout the island and beyond.
This unusual shape of an udeng is not random, it has a deep symbolic meaning. Particularly, it’s a bilateral asymmetrical shape with the right side higher than the left one. In Indonesian culture, this reminds men to always do the right thing and live in justice.
The most popular colors of udeng are plain white and multicolored batik patterns (traditional for Indonesia), but there is a variety of possible designs, including fashionable metallic prints and modern color palettes.
The udeng is a very popular headdress during Balinese religious ceremonies, formal meetings, official events, and other important occasions for the community. That’s why this headpiece isn’t old-fashioned even in the 21st century and is still widely used by the local men. Most males wear an udeng for special events, but you can often see it on men in the streets, as they use it even in daily life.