The lungi (also known as lunghi or sarong) is a traditional garment, similar to a wrap skirt, which is worn by many people in Indonesia, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Burma, Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.
Depending on the country and region, lungis may be worn by both men and women, which means it can be considered a unisex garment.
Lungis can be either open or sewn together at the ends. The advantage of the open version is that it can be used as a tablecloth, beach towel, pareo or similar, and it is much more flexible. The version that is sewn together, on the other hand, is easier to tie, especially for "beginners."
The standard adult lungi is about 115 cm by 190 cm, while lungis for children are about 2/3 of that size. Lungis are normally woven from cotton and come in a variety of colours and patterns. Silk lungis are mainly used for ceremonial purposes (such as weddings or for worship in the temple).
The most common type is either plain or with a plaid pattern. To prevent fraying of the fabric, lungis are often lined or equipped with a stronger woven edge. Men often prefer the simple patterned versions (skirts for men), while women like to have more colourful skirts with, for example, floral motifs. However, there are also areas (e.g. Kerala in southern India) where men wear colourful lungis, often with floral patterns.
The patterns on the fabrics can be produced by weaving or printing. When printing, either manual screen printing or block printing can be used. The block print method is quite complex, and the lungis created using this method are more expensive than those made with (mechanical) screen printing methods.
Dhotis are also very common in India. They are much longer than lungis (often up to four metres long) and are only made in white or cream colours.
There are many different ways to tie a lungi, including wrapping and knotting. Please watch the videos on our “How to wrap a sarong” page to learn some of these methods