Khombow Painting: Papuan Crafts that Attract International Tourists


Painting is one of the works of art that had many fans from ancient times to the present. Painting media also grows from stone, then turns into bark, cloth, and paper. Speaking of bark painting, Jayapura also has a work of art called khombow.

If you are curious, check out the explanation about one of the authentic Papuan artworks and the target of international tourists below.

What is Khombow?

What is Khombow

Khombow is a work of art in the form of a painting that uses bark as a painting medium. Asei Besar Village, East Sentani, Jayapura Regency, Papua Province, is the origin of this art.

Until now, there are still many residents who make khombow as a source of livelihood as well as to preserve the legacy of their ancestors.

Not only the older generation but, the younger generations are also learning this and turning it into a business. So it is not surprising that khombow is still sustainable today.

Not just a painting for decoration, khombow painting also has philosophical meaning for the Sentani people. This relates to its use in the past as rarely worn clothing.

The Sentani people only use it three times during their lives. First, people use it as a wrapping cloth for newborns into the world.

Second, when a daughter from Sentani wears it as a wedding dress when she holds a wedding or Malo. Finally, when someone dies, the khombow will be used as a cloth to wrap the corpse. So it can be said that khombow always existed during important times in people’s lives.

Materials to Make Khombow

Materials to Make Khombow

As the name suggests, the medium for making paintings is using bark. However, not all types of trees can use as a painting board.

The painting media, called cloth tapa, only uses certain trees, which for the Asei people are called khombow trees. These trees are better known as mulberry and fig trees to the general public. This tree is difficult to find, so people cultivate it.

Craftsmen will beat the bark separated from the tree until it becomes flat with a more even surface. After that, they will dry the bark until it dries and can serve as a painting medium.

In addition to natural painting media, coloring materials also come from natural materials. For example, black comes from wood charcoal, red comes from crushed stone, and white comes from a mixture of whiting and coconut oil.

Painting on 50×50 cm bark takes between ten minutes to an hour. As for the wider size, the time will be longer and adjust to the pattern made.

Khombow Motifs

Khombow Motifs

There are several types of painting motifs with different meanings. The crocodile and yoniki motifs are only for traditional leaders because they are sacred.

There are 12 original motifs of khombow paintings that have been used since ancient times. The twelve motifs include snakes, lizards, sun, fish, eels, crane feet, forest flowers, bats, flying squirrels, leaves, and spirals.

However, more modern motifs are now emerging to suit the times and needs as souvenirs. Like people dancing, archery, musical instruments, birds of paradise, birds of paradise, people casting nets, pictures of fish, and others.

Khowbow the Unique Painting

Khombow is one of the proud arts of the Papuan people and can help the community’s economy. The Khombow painting price or the khombow painting price list offered to buyers is also equivalent to the process carried out by craftsmen so that all parties can feel satisfied.