Serban Turban Lessons

If you have ever been on the haj, one of the things you would learn if you are a male, is how to tie the turban or better known in Brunei as serbans. Tying the turbans or as the Bruneians call it is to 'menambat serban'. Serban is that traditional headgear worn by Arabs but has more or less been accepted as an Islamic head dress. Wearing a turban usually signifies that the person has been on the pilgrimage to Mecca.


Many people wear the head dress the moment they land in Brunei. In fact many dressed up when they returned back from the haj. I remembered when I went there was this big bunch of people at the back of the plane each trying out his new jubah and serban. The best time to spot interesting serbans is actually during Mauludun Rasul or Maulud Nabi celebrations.


There are two basic versions - one is with a tail and the other without. The one without is just the tail being wound back into the cloth. Nowadays wearing a serban sometimes become a statement that the wearer belongs to a certain grouping. In most cases, it is merely to indicate that he has just returned from his pilgrimage and in some cases, it becomes a person's daily wear.

However in the older days, serbans are much more revered. Once made, they are only used for special occassions and when not used are stored in a container called 'umpuk silat'. The serbans are only taken out during circumcision ceremonies, khatam Al-Quran and special occassions like wedding. When going to pilgrimage was especially hard in the older days, the serbans became so special as the materials came only from Mecca. This serban is known as 'Serban Mekah'.


Another local Brunei serban is made out of gold and gold threads. In even older days, precious stones of many colours would adorn the serban. This one is so special that it can only be used for certain occassions. It was also considered as 'berkat' as wearing jubahs and serbans are worn by the Prophet. Surprisingly, there is a practical side to the turban. It is normally deliberately made larger so that everyone can wear it. A small hat would be worn inside it to ensure that whoever wears it would have the hat fit in well despite its larger size. This serban is known as 'Serban Emas'.

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