Indonesia is rich in cultures. From Sabang to Merauke, each has their own uniqueness. West Papua is no exception to that. From a lot of traditional dances to musical instruments, let’s check out Pikon. The sound of this traditional, musical instrument enriches West Papuan arts.
From The Sound To The Shape, Enjoy Pikon
This musical instrument is a type of wind instruments. You blow it to make a sound come out, just like people do with trumpets or flutes. The name ‘pikon’ actually comes from Baliem language, ‘pikonane’. It means “a soundful musical instrument”.
Pikon is slightly different from other types of wind instruments. The main part of it is the presence of the string. To play it, you have to pull the rope at the end of it. This will produce three different notes, which are ‘do’ , ‘mi’ , and ‘sol’.
It is common to see this traditional musical instrument being played in Baliem Hill, West Papua. The Dani Tribe always enjoys the early morning sun together in Silimo. The head of the tribe – or the appointed and respected male elder – usually plays pikon as part of the tribe’s morning gratitude.
Other times, the Danis also play pikon when they finish working for the day or when they simply chill in honai. The sound of it is slightly off-key and shrilly. It is understandable for a good reason. At first, pikon was created as mere entertainment after finishing work in the farms or barns. The sound of it will remind you of a toneless, chirping birds.
Gradually, the making of pikon became more improved. Instead of the same toneless, chirping birds, this traditional musical instrument from West Papua was made to sound more melodious. Eventually, pikon was improved until it has become how it sounds like now. You can hear the three notes – ‘do’ , ‘mi’ , and ‘sol’ – whenever it is blown.
Although small and easily carried everywhere (especially when it is placed inside a Noken – a West Papuan large bag), playing pikon is not that easy. To play that requires some serious skills. Otherwise, the sound it produces will be a mixture of disharmonized, noisy tones.
How Pikon Is Made In West Papua
Pikon is made of bamboos with segments and hollow points or holes. These bamboos are called hite. In the central part of it, a vibrating stick is installed.
Pikon may come in various sizes, but the average size of it is 5.2 cm long. To play it right, you must blow the central, hollow part of the bamboo while pulling the rope at the end of it. This will make the stick inside vibrate that it produces the three notes of ‘do’ , ‘mi’, and ‘sol’.
When The Sound of Pikon Is Heard In West Papua
It is true that this traditional musical instrument was played during the Dani Tribe’s spare time first. Eventually, we have gotten to hear the sound of pikon at other important events too. For example: at traditional ceremonies, this musical instrument is played. This means this instrument can be part of the public performances.
Another regular event where we get to hear pikon being played is the Baliem Hill Cultural Festival (Festival Budaya Lembah Baliem). It is an annual, cultural festival where the West Papuan arts are displayed and performed. It is an open opportunity for people to get to know all the unique things regarding West Papua and the indigenous people.
Now you know what pikon is really like. As part of the West Papuan arts, it is very important for us to preserve this traditional, musical instrument. That way, we will still get to hear the sound of the chirping-birdlike of it from the Baliem Hill in the early morning. The best part? It is no longer toneless.