How to Make a Buddhist Monk's Robe

by Karen Curinga
The traditional monk's robe goes back to Buddha's own time.

The traditional monk's robe goes back to Buddha's own time.

Buddha introduced the original monk's robe. The first robes were simple, serviceable and made from discarded scraps of cloth or those scavenged from trash, roadsides or even cremation grounds. They were pieced into a rectangle large enough to wrap around the body. The rectangle was dyed using leaves, wood, bark, flowers and fruit, resulting in the well-known neutral and earth tones. The original Buddhist robe included three parts and was known as a "triple robe." Robe layering depended on activity and weather.

Choose the cloth. Remnants were often used by Buddha's original monks. Cloth such as cotton, linen, silk, hemp or wool is suggested. Red, orange, yellow and maroon are the most common colors used, but colors vary depending on regions and levels.

Create the first robe piece, the waistcloth (antarasavaka). It is worn under the uttarasanga. This rectangular piece of cloth is approximately 4 feet wide by 6 feet in length. This is loose fitting and wraps around the waist, hanging to the knee. It is tied at the waist, sarong-like, with a flat cloth belt.

Make the second robe piece, the upper layer (uttarasanga). This is the most prominent robe, sometimes called the kashaya, referring to a brown or saffron dye. This piece is one layer of fabric measuring approximately 6 by 9 feet. It is sometimes wrapped to cover both shoulders, but most often is wrapped to cover the left shoulder, leaving the right shoulder and arm bare.

Make the third robe piece, the outer robe. This robe (sanghati) is made of two layers of cloth for extra warmth, each measuring 6 by 9 feet. It is also used to spread out as bedding or used as a seat. When not in use it is folded and placed over one shoulder

Assemble the robe on the body by placing the waistcloth first, then adding the upper robe. Wrap the upper robe around the shoulders and body. Join the top two rectangle corners together. Roll the corners, holding the roll tightly in one hand. Push the roll over one shoulder and let it drape down the back. Pull the roll under the armpit on that same side and press down with the arm. Separate the roll in the front. If using the outer robe as well, place the upper and outer robes together and follow the steps to wrap the upper robe around the body.

Items you will need

  • Fabric
  • Thread
  • Needle

Photo Credits

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