Cultural Papua Dances That Will Mesmerize You

Cultural Papua Dances
Cultural Papua Dances

Papua, the region considered as a hidden gem, has more to offer other than its beautiful scenic panorama and the richness of their nature. The locals’ welcoming and warm gesture towards the tourists is also one of the charms of Papua.

 

The local people of Papua have many things to offer: souvenirs, homestays, and even performances. Due to the vast cultural diversity, they have many traditional dances. Each has their own purposes and choreography.

 

If you like watching traditional dances, you might want to consider these cultural Papua dances.

Wutukala Dance

Cultural Papua Dances
Wutukala Dance

The Wutukala dance is performed by the Moi tribe, an indigenous tribe that lives in Sorong. They are known for their body tattoo tradition. The tribe lives around the coastal area of Sorong, making gathering fishes as a part of their lifestyle.

Related to that fact, comes the uniqueness of the Wutukala dance. It depicts the excellent fishing skills of the Moi tribe—making it a notable dance to see, at least once when you visit West Papua.

The history of the Wutukala dance itself took back when the Moi tribes used traditional fishing methods using spears. However, as times goes by, it became ineffective. After that, they began to improvise by using powders made from Derris roots. The roots contain light poison, enough to make the fishes dizzy while not harming the ecosystem.

That journey is shown in the Wutukala dance, and it creates a plot of describing how the ancestors come up with new fishing methods. The male spreads the powder, and the female catch the fishes using Noken (a multifunctional woven or knotted bag) symbolizing that the fish catching activity is a success.

Apart from telling a story, the Wutukala dance is a symbol of appreciation for the fishing innovations found by the Moi tribe. Furthermore, it is also a symbol of gratitude towards the Almighty for blessing them with enough foods and ideas of new fishing methods. Nowadays, the Wutukala dance is not limited for traditional ceremonies; it is also used to promote West Papua’s tourism.

The Sacred Oksang Dance

Cultural Papua Dances
The Sacred Oksang Dance

Oksang dance is a traditional dance performed by the Ngalum tribe from West Papua. This dance is different than any other cultural Papua dances because it can only be performed by the Ngalum tribe. The dance creates a dynamic and neat performance.

The Oksang dance has around 20 to 30 dancers consisting of teenagers, and can be adjusted to the capacity of the stage house it is performed in. Since the Oksang dance is a sacred dance, the stage house must meet certain conditions as this dance should not be performed in usual places. The design of the stage house must use traditional materials and technology.

Due to this dance’s high sacred value, it cannot be displayed until certain conditions are met. It is used to ask for health, fertility, and farming. The Oksang dance can be performed in one or two years, depending on people’s wishes.

War Dance

Cultural Papua Dances
War Dance

Another dance that originated from West Papua is the War dance. This dance represents the Papuan society’s soul of valor and heroism. It is often preformed in various events, thus making the War dance as a well-known traditional dance.

The origin of the War dance takes you back to ancient times, and the dance is done before people go to the battlefield. Nowadays, the function has changed and become a welcoming dance for tourists. Even though the function has changed, it still has the same meaning as a tribute to the ancestors who defended the land from invaders.

The War dance is usually performed in a group that consists of seven male dancers or more. They wear traditional dress and bring arrows as a property. The dance has a passionate and unique movement depicting a warrior.

Magasa Dance

Cultural Papua Dances
Magasa Dance

Magasa dance is a traditional dance performed by the Arfak tribe that lives in West Papua, specifically in the Arfak Mountains, Manokwari.  It is a beautiful, energetic dance with deep meaning. It is not clear who and when the dance was created, but the dance was performed for celebrations.

Magasa is performed by dozens of women and men with no boundaries of age. The mass dance is simple yet entertaining to watch and do. There are no complicated movements in the Magasa dance, making it easy for everybody to join. Another unique trait to the Magasa dance is that it is not accompanied by musical instruments. The dancers will sing together in unison to make one.

Magasa dance was originally used for celebrating war victories. Now, it is to express deep gratitude for grace and happiness in their lives. Furthermore, it symbolizes harmony and unity among the Arfak tribe. The fact that everybody is allowed to join and dance together depicts the spirit of the Arfak tribe as respectful people despite many differences.

Traditional dances are a legacy, more valuable than anything. These cultural Papua dances will continue to be preserved and to mesmerize people. Are you interested in watching them? Cultural appreciation is also essential for preserving them.