Exotic Traditional Musical Instruments Enriching the Culture in West Papua

West Papua

Like other areas in Indonesia, West Papua also has rich culture varieties, and one of them is musical instruments. These instruments have become part of the local people’s life, and they represent the beauty of culture and tell stories about people. Moreover, they have their own uniqueness and distinctive artistic carvings if available. 

Britannica classifies musical instruments by the method of producing sound, including percussion, stringed, keyboard, wind, and electronic. And West Papua has diversities in musical instruments, especially in percussion, stringed, and wind instruments. In the past, these instruments were generally used as a communication tool to give signals. It was played to call and gather the local people for important reasons. Today, the instruments usually accompany dance performance in traditional ceremonies, rituals, celebrations, parties, and cultural festivals. 

Dig deep into our list on exotic traditional musical instruments that enrich the culture of the province! 

Percussion Musical Instruments 

West Papua

Percussion is one of the popular musical instruments in West Papua. These musical instruments are commonly made of wood or bamboo. Some of them are struck by hand, while others are struck against a wooden stick. Here are several traditional instruments with each brief overview. 


Like a drum, Tifa is played by being struck by hand. It is made of a cylinder matoa log holed in the middle, with one of its sides is covered with dried deerskin. This hollow would make a beautiful sound. The body drum is carved aesthetically. 

Tifa is a symbol of peace for the ancient local people. It was used as a calling instrument when they were at war. Tifa called two sides for making peace pact. 

Today, Tifa is used for accompanying rituals, traditional dance, and tribal arts, like tribe parties, wedding celebrations, or welcoming events. There are three kinds of Tifa, including Bass Tifa, Jekir Potong Tifa, Jekir Potong Tifa, Potong Tifa, Basic Tifa, Jekir Tifa. This percussion musical instrument is originally from Sentani, Jayapura, Papua Province, but it is now also well-known to be played in West Papua. It is even popular in Maluku to East Nusa Tenggara, too! 


Krombi or Kerombi is a traditional musical instrument coming from Tehit Tribe, Seremuk Village, South Sorong Regency. The instrument is made of bamboo and played by being struck by a small wooden stick to produced euphonic sound. It usually accompanies their traditional dance for local rituals or tribe ceremonies.


Atowo is relatively hard to find. It is a small, light, long cylinder musical instrument. You must hold the instrument with your hand and strike it with another hand to produce expected harmonical sounds. Atowo is usually played for entertainment and art performance.


Stringed Musical Instruments 

West Papua

Not only percussion, stringed musical instrument also enriches culture in West Papua. Take a look into Guoto, a traditional instrument from the province that can produce mesmerizing sounds from its strings.


Guoto is a traditional musical instrument from West Papua. The instrument is made of wood and cow skin. It is quite different from other instruments commonly struck by hand or against a stick to produce sounds. Guoto is played by sounding the strings in some manner to produce beautiful chordophone sounds.


Wind Musical Instruments 

West Papua

The last musical instruments from the province are wind musical instruments. If you want to play the instruments, you can blow them in some ways. Here you can view several of them. 


In other areas, Yi is similar to flute or pipe instruments. What makes it different is its shape. Yi is bigger with a dark brown color. Made of wood and bamboo, it was once used to call and gather the local people for important reasons. Nowadays, it is commonly used to accompany local traditional dance performance. Although Yi produces a uniquely beautiful sound once it is blown in harmony, now this musical instrument is not easy to find. 


Triton is one of the exotic musical instruments from the province. It is said that the word Triton came from an island which offers more beauty than Raja Ampat. The musical instrument is made of a clamshell. In Papuan language, the shell used for the musical instrument is called bia

Triton is blown to produce mesmerizing sounds. In the past, it was used as a means of communication to give signs and a call to gather the local people. However, today it is used for entertainment and traditional musical instrument. You can effortlessly find the instrument on the seashore, like in Raja Ampat Islands and Wondama Bay.

West Papua has a rich culture, and its musical instruments have become part of the people and their life. Some are stringed and wind instruments, but most of them found are percussion.