Noken Papua, a UNESCO-Recognized World Cultural Heritage

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Have you ever heard or known about noken? Noken or minya is a traditional Papuan bag that is carried using a head and made of bark fibers. 

 

Same with bags in general, this bag is used to carry daily necessities. This noken is made of woven rope. Papuans usually use it to bring agricultural products such as vegetables, tubers and also to bring merchandise to the market.

Noken Philosophy

 

This Noken bag itself is originally made by mamas in Papua. Noken traditional bags have symbols of good life, peace, and fertility for people in Papua, especially mostly in the Central Mountains of Papua such as the Me / Ekari, Damal, Yali, Dani, Lani and Bauzi tribes.

 

What is interesting about this Noken is that only Papuans can make Noken. Women in Papua since childhood have had to learn to make noken, because making Noken from the past to the present can symbolize the woman’s maturity. 

 

Because if papuan women have not been able to make Noken she is not considered an adult and it is a condition for marriage. Noken was created because the tribes in Papua needed containers that could move goods elsewhere.

 

Noken is made from wood raw materials of Manduam trees, Nawa trees or forest orchids and many more types of trees are commonly used. Papuans usually use Noken for various activities, a large Noken (called Yatoo) is used to carry goods such as firewood, crops, grocery items, or even used to carry children. 

 

Medium-sized ones (called Gapagoo) are used to carry grocery items in moderation, and small ones (called mitutee) are used to carry personal items. The uniqueness of Noken is also used as a memento gift for guests who usually set foot on the earth of Papua for the first time and used in ceremonies.

 

Making Noken is quite complicated because it uses manual means and does not use a machine. The wood is processed, dried, sorted into fibers and then spun manually into ropes / threads. The color variations on Noken are made from natural dyes. 

 

The manufacturing process can reach 1-2 weeks, for Noken with large sizes, it can reach 3 weeks even up to 2-3 months, depending on the process. In the Sauwadarek area, Papua, we can still find the manufacture of Noken directly. The price of Noken there is relatively cheap, between Rp.25,000-Rp.50,000 per piece depending on the type and size.

Process for UNESCO recognition

 

Because of its uniqueness brought with the head, noken is registered with UNESCO as one of the traditional works and cultural heritage of the world. 4 years of process to be recognized, finally on December 4, 2012 at the UNESCO session in Paris, France Noken officially legalized and recognized as Intangible Cultural Heritage and included it in the category of In Need of Urgent Safeguarding.

Noken’s Current Existence

 

At the 2021 National Sports Week (PON), Noken became one of the official merchandise at the event. This is to introduce and promote Noken as the identity of Papua to the wider community. 

 

Even at the XVI Papua 2021 National Paralympic Week (PEPARNAS) held in Jayapura City, President Joko Widodo had bought Noken on the side of the road to be used as souvenirs. Afterwards, President Joko Widodo gave Noken to the New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs in November 2021. Of course this will add to the popularity of Noken itself.

 

People in the interior of Papua still maintain using Noken for daily purposes. This is inseparable from the habits since antiquity that are carried out for generations.

 

Well, how? Are you interested in buying Noken or even want to try making it yourself?

 

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