Tuesday, January 08, 2008

How do I stop my sulu from falling down?


from w
That's what I hear often when visitors - vavalagis - put on the Fijian wraparound sulu. Well I just say, breathe in when you tuck it in, and then take care! (Also called the sulu vakatoga, and quite different from the tailored sulu Fiji men wear on formal occasions or Fijian boys often wear to school. Also, I have some that have elastic in the waist - when they are part of a costume such as a tiabe and sulu. Anyway I looked up stuff on the web and came up with some notes from Hawaii.

The basic garment known in English as a "sarong" is a sulu or sulu vakatoga in Fiji.

In East Africa it is called a kanga and usually made of brightly coloured cotton. In Madagasgar it is called a lamba. In Mozambique it is called a capulana. In Somalia a ma'wees. In Zimbabwe zambias.In South Africa a kikoi and commonly used as a furniture throw or for going to the beach. In South Asia a lungi. It is most often sewn into a large cylindrical shape, so there is no slit when the lungi is tied. In India it is colloquially referred to by the misnomer dhoti In Punjab it is a called maylee when worn by a man, and a gamcha when worn by a woman. In Indonesia a kain sarung ('sarong cloth'). In Malaysia it is known as a kain, kain sarung, or kain sampan In the Philippines a malong. In Hawaii it is referred to by the Anglicized Tahitian name, pareo In Samoa a lavalava In Tahiti a pareu.

It is a large sheet of fabric, often wrapped around the waist and worn as a skirt by men and women throughout much of Africa, Asia, India and on many Pacific islands. Usually made from cotton or other natural fibers, the fabric is often brightly coloured or printed with intricate patterns. Some prints depict animals or plants, checkered or geometric patterns, or resemble the results of tie dying & batiking. In many of the African countires, the fabric is designed with various symbolic prints, giving the garment more meaning and purpose. Sarongs are also used as wall hangings and other forms of clothing, such as shawls, baby carriers, complete dresses or upper body clothing. They are often used by women as a cover-up over swimwear.

Numerous tying exist to hold a sarong to the wearer's body. In some cases, these techniques customarily differ according to the gender of wearer. If a sarong has ties, they may be used to hold it in place. If no ties exist, a pin may be used, the fabric may be tightly tucked under itself in layers, the corners of the main sheet may be around the body and knotted, or a belt may be used to hold the sulu in place.

But most often it is just pulled in tight and tucked in and occasionally the wearer has to stand up and readjust his or her sulu as it tends to unwrap!

And some notes adapted from http://starbulletin.com/96/08/26/features/story1.html

Whole lotta Lava Lava going on
Call it a pareo. Or kikepa. Or sulu. But just tie one on and you're very much in style.
Story by Burl Burlingame Illustration by Kip Aoki Photo by Ken Sakamoto
Star-Bulletin


The urge to wrap one's body in beautiful cloth is as old as cloth itself. In the Pacific, whether it's called sarong (Indonesia), pareo (Tahiti), kikepa (Hawaii), lavalava (Samoa), sulu (Fiji) or beach wrap (haole), it's an idea that has never loosened its grip on the opu of fashion consciousness. Today, however, the humble cloth rectangle is kicking off the sand. "Off the beach, into the closet and out to dinner," as Maile Meyers of Native Books and Beautiful Things puts it. "Some beads, nice shoes, a wonderful cotton print - you're fashionable, baby."

Colleen Kimura, who became entranced with the potential of kikepa while living in Fiji in the early 1980s. "It's called the sulu there, and a very tight, fitted version is the 'pocket sulu,' said Kimura. "There, it's mostly men's clothing, and I have vivid memories of the Fijian men wearing gaudy flowered sulus, purple shirts and heavy black leather sandals." Kimura began experimenting with natural designs using contrasting and complementary colors, bringing a new tastefulness to the beach wrap. Hawaiiana icon Haunani Kay Trask, for example, is rarely seen without kikepa, and she estimates that at least 60 percent of her kikepa closet is Tutuvi. "It's beautiful!" said Trask. "In fact, I'm wearing a Tutuvi right now. The perfect clothing to wear in a hot climate. And not just because it makes a political statement - I'm pretty political, you know - because the muumuu is an imposed clothing style. The kikepa ties us in with the South Pacific.

"And it's just cloth! No zippers, no buttons, incredibly inexpensive, you don't have to accessorize. It's something about the way they fit - a fluidity of line that goes with the body. It's why Polynesian women look so good in them."

And men. Kimura said she loves seeing the high-school football kids lugging their gear after practice, wearing a lavalava. "After practice, you want to wearing something comfortable," she said. They're also popular with canoe paddlers and other water-sports enthusiasts. "You can wear it with your bathing suit, and it gives the suit a chance to dry out, while you're dressed up enough to run errands on the way home," Kimura said.

Tutuvi pareo are generally printed on cotton, with the design bordering the bottom half so that it doesn't get lost in the tying...And kikepa is not just a body wrap. "You can also use it for a picnic cloth, a canopy, a curtain, an overnight bag, anything that can be tied up," said Kimura.

"When they get old and faded, then you take them back to the beach," said Trask. "Even if it's too worn to be used as clothing, you can still get plenty of use out of kikepa. I have some older kikepa that are perfect for use at the beach." And there's a certain full-circle aspect to that notion that ties things up nicely.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Where can I purchase a traditional Lava Lava for a guy?

Anonymous said...

I would like to know the answer to this too!
The best I have found was a sarong I bought in Port Vila, Vanautu, which had long ties on each end of the large piece of material, that you could pull around to your back and tie at the waist.
However, I am having trouble finding another like this. I live in Australia.
Does anyone know where this waist-tie type can be purchased?

Anonymous said...

Lots for sale in Suva Fiji and likely other cities in Fiji...I coulf pick you up one and send it to you for a 50$US charge...plus cost of sulu and shipping...rtaft@comcast.net