Kain Timor: The Aesthetic Traditional Woven Cloth of West Papua

West Papua
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Traditional clothes in West Papua, like koteka and tassel skirt (rumbai) have been known for long. However, people in Sorong, West Papua, establish to have their authentic sarong made of woven cloth: Kain Timor

Some sources mention that Kain Timor first came to the province in the 1700s brought by missionaries and teachers from Timor, East Nusa Tenggara. Others say that it used to be an exchange tool brought by Portuguese people who came for spices. Meanwhile, Moi myth notes that it was from a water lady having a relationship with a man from the Doo Clan.

It is always interesting to explore Kain Timor, and here is more to follow.

West Papua
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The Significance of Kain Timor

Kain Timor represents a huge economic and social value. The traditional woven cloth from West Papua shares some following functions.

Exchange Tool

People of Maybrat used to use it as a tool to exchange goods they want to buy, like food, drink, or land for farming or house. Others use it to communicate and fulfill their need. They believe that it has a sort of magical power moving to the owner or even his relatives. It is also believed to invite luck and good health condition as well as to resist misfortunes.

Symbol of Peace

In Isti culture of Maybrat, like money and pigs, Kain Timor is also used to resolve customary issues. It is used as a symbol representing peace when there are two parties led to some issues. They believe that the situation will be secured if the cloth is shown in the rituals.

Dowry in Marriage

Kain Timor is also used for dowry in marriages. The higher the value of the cloth, the higher the social status it would establish.


The Classification of Kain Timor

Here is the classification of Kain Timor based on certain levels of value. The aesthetic woven cloth from West Papua is also known as the head, chin, neck, and other additional parts.

Heirloom Cloth (Head)

Heirloom cloth or also known as Kain Pusaka is on the highest value level of Kain Timor. It is also known as Head or class-one Kain Timor due to its value. It is highly wanted and has a high price as not everyone can effortlessly earn it leading price up from a hundred to three hundred million Rupiahs. An example of heirloom cloth is Wan Safe Warbas cloth. Another example of Head Kain Timor is Sarim cloth ranging from 50 to 200 million Rupiahs per sheet.

Class-two Cloth (Neck or Chin)

The second type is named after its value: class-two cloth. It is called Neck or Chin because its price is below that under Head class. The price of the class-two cloth ranges from ten to twenty million Rupiahs. However, some of the cloth, like Original Bokek, is also called Head. “Bokek” in the local language means dowry given in marriages. Another example of the cloth is Toba Sigis cloth.

Boirim and Drum Cloth

Boirim and Drum cloth can easily be found and possessed by many people. You’ll find no difficulty finding this type of cloth that ranges from one to five million Rupiahs per sheet. 

How to address and name the traditional woven cloth in one area can be different from that in other areas because they acquire certain distinctive dialects on their own. The price of each aesthetic cloth can also be different depending on how many times it has been used in customary events. Therefore, although the cloth is not an heirloom, it can also be priceless if historically used in many customary events.

Kain Timor sometimes can also be classified based on the clan where it is established. However, one woven cloth cannot be fully claimed by one certain clan as it has possibly been used in numerous customary events and processes. It also means that the cloth has surely been handed from one to another.

Those are some facts about Kain Timor of West Papua. Interesting to learn, aren’t they?