Spot the Difference, Man vs. Woman Traditional Clothing in West Papua

Man vs. Woman Traditional Clothing

Man vs. Woman Traditional Clothing

West Papua traditional clothes are one of a kind throughout Indonesia. You should avoid mistaking it for any other province. Each Papua traditional clothing possesses a certain uniqueness while harboring its authentic characteristics.

Native men and women wear traditional clothes to complete many cultural events or for their daily activities. Yet, is there a difference between man vs. woman traditional clothing in this province? Let us find out!

Man vs. Woman Traditional Clothing in West Papua

Men and women in West Papua have different sets of traditional clothes, albeit quite similar designs. The wear sometimes depends on the event’s purpose or the clothing’s usage. There are a lot of variants of regional costumes and garments for each sex. What are they?

Papuan Men’s Traditional Clothing

  1. Koteka

Koteka is trendy traditional clothing for Papuan men. Women cannot wear it simply because of this clothing usage. Men wear Koteka to cover some parts of their genitalia by wrapping the clothing around the waist.

They usually wear short Koteka for regular activity, while the long one is for certain cultural events. You can see this traditional clothing worn by the natives living in mountainous areas.

It is made of the dried skin of a water pumpkin. The process requires the removal of the fruit’s seeds. Then, the skin will be left under the sun.

This drying can harden the skin, thus making it more durable. Shaped like a cone, at the end of Koteka, men will attach feathers from a chicken or bird.

  1. Men’s Rok Rumbai (Tassel Skirt)

Both men and women wear this traditional skirt. However, there is a difference between this man vs. woman traditional clothing in wearing it. Papuan men wear tassel skirts for special occasions only.

In addition, they do not need any other clothing to cover their upper body, unlike the women. Tassel skirts are made of dried Sago leaves or any available leaves.

Men wear this skirt with the length up to their knees. They also adorn themselves with several accessories, such as bracelets and necklaces made of dog teeth, pig tusks, or Cendrawasih feathers, and a headdress made of Cassowary feathers, dried leaves, and palm fiber. These accessories indicate true male virility.

Papuan Women’s Traditional Clothing

  1. Yokai

Yokai is a typical traditional dress exclusive to married women. It is an upper garment made of certain parts of a tree’s bark. Married women in West Papua wear Yokai in their daily life by wrapping it around the body.

Women should pay extra attention in making the dress as it still has a noticeable, natural reddish brown color from the tree’s bark. The materials are woven together into the form of a cape.

  1. Sali

If Yokai is exclusive to married women, Sali is the opposite – It is made just for single or unmarried women. It has a unique and natural brown color from good quality tree bark or dried Sago leaves.

Unmarried women wear Sali by wrapping it around their upper bodies. The clothing has to have a more extended part for the inside and a shorter for the outside. If a woman officiates her marriage, she cannot wear Sali anymore.

These four are the best representative of the difference between man vs. woman traditional clothing in West Papua. Subject to the wearer’s sex and the clothing’s purpose, Papua men’s clothes are much simpler than women’s.

However, all have a special touch of uniqueness to represent the wearer’s status. Do not forget to buy one of these clothes as a souvenir if you visit West Papua someday!