West Papua Diary

Rok Rumbai, Traditional Clothes of West Papua Besides Koteka

Rok Rumbai, Traditional Clothes of West Papua Besides Koteka

Papua is a province with its own culture and traditions. Many Papuans still adhere to their ancestors’ cultural heritage today. One of them is traditional clothes of West Papua, consisting of a tassel skirt or Rok Rumbai and a koteka.

There are numerous anti-mainstream cultures in Papua. We can see that the traditional clothing of the Papuans is made from natural materials that they created themselves, with no influence from modern culture. Koteka for men and Rok Rumbai for women are the most well-known Papuan traditional clothes.

The Rok Rumbai’s Uniqueness

As the most popular traditional clothes in Papua New Guinea, Rok Rumbai is unique clothes to wear.

Papuan traditional clothing with tassel skirts is made from various natural materials. This skirt is made from palm fiber, dry sago, and other materials.

Some people in remote Papua wear tassel skirts without a top. They typically use paintings with distinctive Papuan motifs to cover their upper bodies.

Nonetheless, there are people in Papua who also wear tassel skirts and have cassowary feather head decorations.

It can also be made with dried sago leaves. Tassel skirts are worn for traditional activities as well as for daily activities in Papua

How Do They Wear Rok Rumbai?

Rok Rumbai is a traditional Papuan women’s dress made of arranged dried sago leaves. This skirt covers the lower half of their bodies.

When they wear this tassel skirt, they also wear attributes or accessories that enhance their appearance and make them even more attractive.

Commonly, the accessories that go with this outfit are headdresses made of palm fiber, cassowary feathers, and the same material as the skirt, namely dried sago leaves.

Rok Rumbai, like Koteka, does not come with a top. They will continue to draw Papuan motifs on their upper bodies.

The picture is painted with natural ink, which they also make. Their motifs are usually inspired by the variety of flora and fauna in their homeland.

How Do Papuan Men Wear Koteka?

People in Paniai, particularly men, prefer to use Koteka. Koteka means “clothing” in their language. This clothing is also known as holim or horim by some groups of the Jayawijaya Mountains tribe.

Koteka is genuinely one-of-a-kind because it is not only worn to cover the male genitals; they also wear it bare-chested.

Koteka, or holim, is a distinct traditional dress for men made of pointed pumpkin or kalabasa, which is used to cover their genitals.

The koteka is tied around the waist with a fine black rope to keep it from falling. The tail is adorned with bird or partridge feathers.

Papuan men commonly use koteka in three ways, including:

  1. Perpendicular represents the wearer as a real man who is still a virgin (never had sex).
  2. Tilting to the right represents masculinity; true men have high social status and nobility.
  3. Tilts to the left represent middle-class adult men and indicate the wearer is descended from warlords (apendugogar).

The koteka’s size varies depending on its use. Men usually use a small koteka for work, such as hunting. The koteka for traditional ceremonies, on the other hand, has many carvings and decorations, such as bird feathers at the ends.


We can conclude from the explanation above that Papuan culture is indeed very closely related to everything in nature. They make excellent use of resources.
It begins with the selection of materials and ends with simple designs that still reflect Papua’s characteristics. All of this is entirely the work of the Papuan people’s hands. We hope that you have a chance to visit and wear the traditional clothes of West Papua.

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