Ask Difference

Selendang vs. Tudung — What's the Difference?

Edited by Tayyaba Rehman — By Fiza Rafique — Published on November 21, 2023
Selendang is a loose, decorative shawl typically draped over the shoulders. Tudung is a tight-fitting headscarf worn for modesty. Key difference lies in purpose and manner of wear.
Selendang vs. Tudung — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Selendang and Tudung


Key Differences

The Selendang, predominantly recognized in Indonesian and Malay cultures, is a shawl-like piece of cloth typically worn over the shoulders and may cascade down the back, serving primarily as an accessory or for slight warmth. Conversely, the Tudung, a term frequently used in Malaysia, refers to a headscarf designed to cover the head and chest, aiming to preserve modesty and comply with religious guidelines, drawing a distinct line between the aesthetic and purposeful functionalities of both.
Often adorned with decorative patterns or embellishments, the Selendang can be utilized as a stylish accentuation to a woman’s outfit, emphasizing aesthetic appeal and occasionally offering light warmth. In contrast, the Tudung, while it may bear decorative elements, chiefly aims to adhere to Islamic principles of modesty, signifying a pivotal aspect of identity and faith, thereby embodying a garment deeply interwoven with religious and cultural significance.
A Selendang might be crafted from a variety of materials, from delicate silks to lightweight cotton, and doesn’t strictly conform to a standard form or style, offering a versatile array of styling options. On the other side of the spectrum, a Tudung is generally crafted with the specific intention of fully covering the hair, neck, and chest, with variations in style and material that nonetheless adhere to the overarching principle of maintaining modesty.
In various social or ceremonial contexts, a Selendang might be draped or tied in specific ways to complement traditional attire, becoming a fashionable addition without necessitating adherence to religious or cultural mandates. The Tudung, however, remains steadfastly present in daily wear for numerous Muslim women, its style and color choices often reflecting personal taste while steadfastly maintaining its fundamental role in ensuring modesty is preserved.
Notably, both Selendang and Tudung, while distinctly different in their primary functions and manners of wear, coexist within similar cultural and geographical contexts. The Selendang might be selected for occasions where aesthetic complementation is sought, while the Tudung remains a steadfast and ubiquitous presence in the daily lives of many, weaving a tapestry that intertwines both garments in a rich cultural narrative.

Comparison Chart

Primary Purpose

Fashion and light warmth
Religious and modesty adherence

Manner of Wear

Draped over shoulders
Covers head, neck, and chest

Cultural Association

Indonesian and Malay
Predominantly Malay

Material Variety

Broad (silk, cotton, etc.)
Often specific to ensure coverage

Event Usage

Occasional and ceremonial
Daily and ubiquitous

Compare with Definitions


Selendangs are often light and airy.
The light Selendang fluttered gently in the breeze.


A Tudung is a headscarf meant to cover head and chest.
She wore a black Tudung to maintain her modesty.


Selendangs may be made from a variety of materials.
The Selendang, made of fine silk, felt smooth to the touch.


The Tudung adheres to Islamic principles of modesty.
Wearing a Tudung aligns with her religious beliefs.


A Selendang is a decorative shawl.
Her Selendang was beautifully adorned with intricate beadwork.


Tudungs can showcase personal style within modesty.
Her Tudung was a lovely shade of pastel blue.


A Selendang is typically associated with Indonesian and Malay cultures.
In traditional Malay attire, a Selendang might be chosen for festive events.


Tudung styles can vary while maintaining coverage.
She chose a Tudung style that elegantly framed her face.


The Selendang is predominantly used as an accessory.
She chose a vibrant Selendang to complement her outfit.


The Tudung is prevalently worn in daily life.
She selects a Tudung each day before leaving home.


In Southeast Asia, a multipurpose sash tied around the shoulders to carry infants and groceries, or draped over the head.


A form of the hijab worn in Malaysia


A scarf worn around the head by Muslim women in Malaysia; conceals the hair but not the face

Common Curiosities

What is the main purpose of wearing a "Selendang"?

A "Selendang" is often worn for fashion, comfort, or cultural reasons, draped around the shoulders or neck.

What is the main purpose of wearing a "Tudung"?

A "Tudung" is mainly worn by Muslim women for religious reasons to maintain modesty, covering the hair and often the neck.

What is "Selendang" in English?

"Selendang" is Malay for "shawl" or "scarf."

Can "Selendang" be worn with a "Tudung"?

Yes, many women wear a "Selendang" with a "Tudung" for added style or warmth.

How are "Selendang" and "Tudung" maintained or cleaned?

Depending on the material, most can be hand-washed or machine-washed with care. It's important to follow care instructions.

Can men wear a "Selendang"?

Yes, in some cultures, men wear "Selendang" or similar garments, especially for ceremonial purposes.

Where did the words "Selendang" and "Tudung" originate?

Both words originate from the Malay language, spoken primarily in Malaysia and parts of Indonesia.

Are there specific materials that "Selendang" and "Tudung" are made from?

Both can be made from a variety of materials, including cotton, silk, chiffon, and synthetic fabrics.

What is "Tudung" in English?

"Tudung" is Malay for "headscarf" or "hijab," worn primarily by Muslim women to cover their head.

Are "Selendang" and "Tudung" specific to a particular culture or religion?

While "Selendang" can be found in various cultures, "Tudung" is specific to Islamic culture but can have variations across different Muslim-majority countries.

How are "Selendang" and "Tudung" different from other scarves?

While "Selendang" is similar to other shawls, "Tudung" is distinct in its design and coverage, specifically made for covering the hair and often the neck.

Can "Selendang" be used as a "Tudung"?

While traditionally different, a "Selendang" can be creatively wrapped to function as a "Tudung," but it might not provide the same coverage or fit.

Is the wearing of a "Tudung" mandatory in Islam?

The interpretation varies. Many believe it's an obligation for Muslim women, while others see it as recommended or a personal choice.

Are there any social or political issues associated with "Tudung"?

Yes. In some places, wearing a "Tudung" is a matter of personal rights, identity, and religious freedom. It can be a subject of debate and controversy.

Do all Muslim women wear a "Tudung"?

No, wearing a "Tudung" is a personal choice, and it varies based on cultural, regional, or individual preferences.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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