Sireuw: Beautiful Women’s Clothing from the Yapen Islands


When looking for traditional clothes from Papua or Papua traditional clothes, there are generally people in Indonesia and the world who only know the koteka and loincloth as Papua traditional clothes. However, the people of the Apen Islands, Papua have a distinctive traditional dress called sireuw.

If you are curious about the meaning and uniqueness of this beautiful dress of West Papua traditional clothes, see the summary in the following article.

What Sireuw is?


What Sireuw is

Sireuw is traditional women’s clothing used the same way as when wearing a skirt today. The size is quite short, and the middle end seems tapered.

The tribes that use sireuw as traditional clothing include the Serewen Tribe, the Pom Tribe, and the Mangkaruai Robaha Ansus Tribe in the Yapen Islands Regency.

The material of manufacture is by using bark and beads. People generally use genemo bark. The tree species were originally very numerous, but now the number is starting to decrease.

Therefore, people switch to using other types of bark, such as semang bark. This bark has different names in each region, such as Mani, Korowe, and Mewun.

While decorative beads or named raori also come from nature, grass seeds, or the patibu tree.

The beads have no color, so they use natural dyes. Five colors have been around for a long time, namely, yellow (boning), red (berika), blue (kahe), black (nyumetang), and white (bua).

The “Mama” need a fairly long time, about one week to four weeks. They will tie each raori with string or thread. After that, the beads are woven according to the pattern, so the result looks beautiful.

The motifs on sireuw include birds of paradise, mermaids, crocodiles, and human skeletons. as well as several motifs of other living things. Not only that, but there are also motifs resembling celestial bodies such as the sun, stars, and the moon. Other motifs are sea ghosts, name writing, and tifa.

Sireuw Function

Sireuw Function

Some of the functions of Sireuw handicrafts other than as clothing needs include:

1. As an Exchange Tool

The economic value of sireuw is quite high when bartering or exchanging transactions. The owner can replace it with certain objects, for example, porcelain plates. You can also trade them for metallic items, such as bronze necklaces and machetes.

In ancient times sireuw was one of the most important items for the people around Cendwawasih Bay.

Apart from being a medium of exchange or material, these clothes also act as a unifier and maintain good relations between groups.

2. As a Dowry

Sireuw position in the dowry is also high. Giving sireuw with plates and jars is a way for the male family to respect the bride.

So it’s not surprising if you find this dress in every household in the Yapen Islands area because the female population will accept it when you get married.

Sireuw Preservation

Sireuw Preservation

In 2018, the Directorate General of Culture of the Indonesian Ministry of Education and Culture stated that Sireuw and seven other Papuan works were intangible cultural heritages from Indonesia.

Apart from marriage, the local government is also trying to preserve this traditional dress.

Some of the programs are training sireuw immersion. Not only that, but the government also ordered civil servants to use it at several important events or meetings.


If the government and local people are aggressively promoting, this traditional dress will have more fans and become an attraction when traveling. To make it happen, the collaboration between the government and the community can make sireuw more famous and penetrate human breath.