Indigenous Cultural Products of West Papua You Should Know

West Papua

Many islands in our country, Indonesia produce a large variety of cultural products that are unique and distinctive to each region. The diversity of our country’s cultural products is indeed a sign that our society highly upholds cultural preservation. From Sabang to Merauke, one area that is always interesting to discuss is the land of Papua—especially West Papua.

Did you know that indigenous Papuans come from 255 diverse tribes who speak different languages ​​from one another? Not to mention that a large number of ethnic groups in the land of paradise also make cultural products such as traditional weapons and houses. The following is a list of cultural products of West Papua.

Bows and Arrows

West Papua

This is one of the weapons used by Arfak tribe in West Papua. In Sougb language they speak, it is called inyomus. Bows and arrows are a unit of traditional weapons that are used for hunting wild boars and other animals. In addition, Papua’s bows and arrows are also the companions to spears that indigenous Papuans always carry.

They actually use different arrowheads according to the situations. The difference lies in the material used to make the arrowheads. If it is aimed to hunt animals, then the arrowheads used are made of bamboo. Meanwhile, when going to war, indigenous tribes in Papua use arrowheads and spearheads made of animal bones.

In addition, arrows are also functioned as property for home decoration in some areas in Papua, including Irian Jaya, Wamena, and Kurulu. They are generally placed on the walls of the house in order to respect the culture of the arrow services.

The collection of bows and arrows has become a part of Papuan society. So it is not difficult to find a place that sells arrows in West Papua. Generally, arrows for collection purposes are traded in the market or can be ordered directly from arrow craftsmen.

Nowadays, however, this traditional Papuan weapon has undergone many developments and changes due to modernization. In return, archery has now emerged with similar techniques and tools. Currently, modern Papuans do archery for sports and recreation while the traditional Papuan bows and arrows are still used for survival.

Tifa Musical Instrument

West Papua

The fame of Tifa musical instrument has turned this traditional Papuan art tool to even the hallmark of West Papua. Tifa is a musical instrument made of wood that has been perforated and one end of the log covered with some dry deerskin.

The drum-shaped musical instrument is played by being hit and is often used to accompany war dances. Tifa is one of the cultural products of West Papua classified into five different types of instruments with equally good sound results: Tifa Dasar (basic Tifa), Tifa Jekir, Tifa Jekir Potong, Tifa Potong and Tifa Bas. 

Rumah Kaki Seribu (Millipede House)

West Papua

In the region of Arfak Mountains, there is a traditional house known as Rumah Kaki Seribu (Millipede House). The term “Thousands of Feet” is because the house is built on a row of many small supporting poles which are so tightly set that there is no gap between them. Therefore, when viewed, the house looks like it has many legs like a millipede.

The walls of the millipede house are made of butska tree bark, the roof is made of pandan leaves, and the floor is made of neatly arranged bamboo stalks. The Arfak house actually resembles a house on stilts, but it is different from the common stilt houses in other areas. 

Millipede house has two doors, the front door and the back door. The house has no windows to protect the people in the house from wild animals as well as make them feel comfortable and safe from evil spirits. Thus, the reason they make all the foundations from parts of the trees is also that they want to be part of nature.

On the inside, the traditional house is only divided into two parts (rooms): one part is for men, and the other is for women. Generally, the left part of the house is for women and is called ngimsi, while the right part is for men (ngimdi).

Sajojo Dance

West Papua

It is safe enough to say that Sajojo dance is a form of traditional Papuan art that is well known throughout the country. The dance is often performed when welcoming special guests on important events in the Papua region. Sajojo dance has a dynamic concept, where both male and female dancers will jointly jump and stomp their feet once a musical accompaniment, such as Tifa, is played.

In its current development, the dance, which is usually accompanied by Sajojo song, has also used modern music. So, people will always remain excited when watching dance performance.

Mahkota Kasuari (Cassowary Crown)

West Papua

In easternmost Indonesia, especially Papua, ethnic groups still wear traditional clothing like rok rumbai for women and koteka for men. They also wear plenty of accessories such as a headdress, namely Mahkota Kasuari that reflects the character of Papuan people. 

The accessory is called the cassowary crown because the main material used is cassowary feathers. In addition, there are also rabbit hair and dried sago leaves to support the making of this graceful crown.

There are many more cultural products of West Papua that you should know. Visit the region to find out more about the beauty of Papuan culture.

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