The Surprising Benefits of West Papua Traditional Music and Dance

west papua

Known as the land of Cendrawasih birds, Papua and West Papua are rich with traditional music and dance.

Each of the dances and musical instruments belonging to the indigenous tribes there has different purposes.

Some of which are for simple entertainment and welcoming guests or even further, for getting rid of evil spirits.

Furthermore, did you know that Papuan dances and music have some surprising benefits? Read until the end of the article to find out about the benefits.

The Surprising Benefits of Papuan Traditional Music

Based on an e-journal regarding mental health released by Suara Forikes, it was analysed that some therapy of traditional music can be beneficial to reduce one’s stress.

Surprisingly, it can also be helpful to stabilise emotion and make you feel more relaxed. This will in turn change the physiological systems of your body into better.

Below are some Papuan music instruments that may have different benefits:

1. Pikon Music

A Papuan tribe, Dani, usually uses Pikon to play the tribal music in the area. It is a bamboo instrument with 5.2 cm in length.

Right in the mid part of the instrument, a string and a vibrating stick are attached in order to create different kinds of interesting sound.

While the music instrument is generally used merely for entertainment, you may have not heard about an interesting fact about it.

It is believed by the locals in Papua and West Papua that playing Pikon can heal one’s fatigue.

2. Tifa Music

Resembling a drum, tifa is make of wood that is wrapped with some animal skin or imitated leather. The sound of tifa will be produced once the skin or the leather vibrates.

Playing tifa means you have to hit the leather surface with your hand palm. As a rhythmic instrument, tifa is play to stabilize the music beat or tempo.

3. Guoto Music

Another Papuan music instrument is Guoto that looks like celempung, a traditional Sundanese music instrument.

Both have strings to play with, but while with celempung, you hit the strings, you pluck them on Guoto.

The locals usually play Guoto to go along with some rituals and dances, as well as welcoming guests.

The Surprising Benefits of Papuan Traditional Dances

Traditional dances are fun, that is the most interesting fact about them. Nevertheless, if you need better reasons to do a traditional dance, you can get more body balance and flexibility from it.

Furthermore, a traditional dance, especially the one with so many rhythms like Papuan dance, can prevent dementia (memory loss).

This happens because when you dance, some functions of the brain ‘cooperate’ to improve certain body functions, such as sensitivity, kinesthetics, and rationality.

The following are several types of tribal dances in Papua and West Papua that have the great benefits mentioned above.

1. Soanggi Dance

Soanggi is believe to be a wick spirit that is still haunting as it has not yet rested peacefully in the afterlife.

If the spirit possesses a woman in the village, the leader will immediately decide to get the others to dance together in order to expel the unwanted spirit.

A shaman will also take part in this ritual as he or she is believe to have power that can heal some diseases.

2. Aniri Dance

The dance originate from Koakwa village in Fakfak Regency, West Papua, describes the freeing movement of a child (also known as “Aniri”) that is disturbed by some evil spirits.

This ritual is apply to a child especially if the child is being orphan or left out by his/her parents. The dance movements are so lively and sacred that only certain local people can do it.

3. Seka Dance

Different from the above dances, Seka dance is doing by the locals residing areas in West Papua, such as Fakfak, Kaimana, and Timika.

The dance represents their feelings of gratitude towards their gods and ancestors for the harvest and all the blessings in life.

There are other interesting traditional music instruments and dances indigenous to the regions of Papua as well as West Papua.

Those elements have played important roles in shaping the culture and identity of the local Papuans. So, when in Papua, don’t forget to see their wonderful rituals.