Feel the Spirit of West Papua from the Energetic Sajojo Dance


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Each Province In Indonesia Has Its Own Styles Of Traditional Dancing. So Is West Papua With Their Energetic Sajojo Dance.

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West Papua is rich with natural resources, but they are also known as a province in the eastern part of Indonesia with various cultural products. One of the most prevalent ones that also becomes the characteristic of the land is Sajojo Dance. Like other traditional dances, Sajojo has its own movement and underlying meaning, which you will learn below.

A Brief History of Sajojo Dance



While the historical record of the Sajojo Dance is vague, this dance has been around since the 1990s. According to oral tradition, its name is derived from one of the West Papuan songs, Sajojo, which also becomes the accompaniment of the dance itself.

The traditional song tells about a gorgeous village girl who is admired by the villagers. The dance doesn’t clearly portray the song lyrics in terms of movement. However, it features moves that depict the happiness and joy of the community.

There are no exact rules regarding the number of people who have to perform the Sajojo Dance. Generally, the dance is performed in a large group, making the audience are able to see the harmony and unity through the dancers’ movement and facial expressions.  

What Makes Sajojo Dance Different?

Originally, Sajojo Dance was performed as part of the traditional ceremonies in West Papua. As time evolves, this folk dance is used as a welcoming dance, particularly to those honorable guests who come to the land of Papua. 

Today, Sajojo is one of the many West Papuan traditional dances that play a significant role in the tourism industry. However, compared to other dances, Sajojo comes with its own characteristics, such as follow:

  • Can Be Performed By Anyone

One of the few things that differentiate Sajojo Dance from others is that anyone can perform it, regardless of gender and age. It’s a cultural product that carries a message of togetherness and joyfulness. Therefore, this dance is highly versatile and has no binding rules, except for its movements.

  • Can Be Performed on a Large Scale

In fact, Sajojo Dance has been performed in various regions across Indonesia, with the number of performers ranging from five to tens. Even it requires hundreds of people to perform on certain occasions. 

This is started from the habit of Papuans who enjoy gathering. When this dance is performed at a traditional ceremony, they will join and follow along with the moves even if they are not the main dancers.

Energetic Moves of West Papua’s Sajojo Dance



The movements of the Sajojo Dance are emphasized on the jumps and stomps of the feet. Since there are no precise rules, the dance has various motion variations. As such, each folk dance movement can be created on its own. Below are some of the basic Sajojo Dance movements:

  • Opening

To start off, the dancer will begin from the floor in a half-standing and half-sitting position. When the music starts, the dancers stand up and jump forward and backward. At this point, hands are opened and pointed forward. When jumping backward, hands should be directed downwards. 

  • Middle

The performers will repeat the movements above until the lyrics of the Sajojo song are started. The next move is jumping to the right and back to the initial position, followed by two claps. Afterward, walk forwards and backward four times while also moving hands to the left and right.

  • Closing

The dancers will repeat the above movements again before they make a circle and stomp their feet while moving around it. Aren’t the moves relatively easy? This is why the locals will join in when there is a ceremony where Sajojo Dance is performed.

Props and Costumes of Sajojo Dance

Costumes and props used by the Sajojo dancers from head to toe are not much different from other folk dances from West Papua. Regarding outfits, male dancers will be shirtless with paintings of endemic Papuan plants and animals on their skin. This also applies to the female ones.

However, today’s female dancers often cover their bodies with dark clothes. Only their visible body parts, such as hands and legs, will be covered in the painting. All dancers usually wear a tassel skirt made from dried sago leaves and fibers. However, since the materials are not easy to obtain, they switch to raffia string.

All dancers will wear a head covering made of palm fiber, sago leaves, or bird feathers. Their necks will also be adorned with necklaces made of shells, rocks, woods, and animal teeth or bones, representing the icons of Papua. Generally, the dancers will hold typical Papuan weapons. Still, it is not always required and can be substituted with fake armaments made of bamboo.

Stuff used to substitute the original props and costumes of Sajojo Dance proves that this cultural product is evolving. Even so, the underlying meaning this dance has remains the same as ever. People will still be able to feel the true spirit of West Papua from every single movement in this folk dance.