The Wamesa Tribe in West Papua: The Wondama Bay’s Inhabitants & Their Tribal Culture

West Papua
Sumber : Hey Suci

Papuan indigenous tribes in Wondama Bay, Teluk Wondama Regency, West Papua Province, include Wamesa tribe which is the largest tribe inhabiting the Wandamen Bay, Nikiwar, Windesi, Roeswar and Roon Islands, to the Dusner, Wondiboy, Rasiei and Kabouw peninsulas. In fact, Wamesa is even one of the largest tribes in the province. The other tribes inhabiting the bay are Maniwak, Mairasi, Moru, Toro, Roon, and many more. 

Wamesa ethnic group has their own language known as the Wamesa language belonging to the family of non-Austronesian Papuan language. There are approximately 4,000 people there who speak the language. These people’s staple food are sago and seafood, especially fish. 

West Papua
Sumber : Wondama

Their Various & Unique Cultural Products in West Papua

The indigenous people of Teluk Wondama Regency have various forms of art such as dance and music performed at traditional ceremonies, at welcoming guests, and on certain big days. The following is the types of dances and musical instruments in the area.


A social dance usually performed in pairs by the youth in the village. This dance is done along with the rhythm of the music played at medium to fast tempos depending on the song being sung. The musical instruments used include a hollow guitar, a small guitar called a juglele, a large bass guitar (stand-bass), and a percussion instrument called tifa.


This traditional dance is held as part of a traditional ceremony and is performed to the accompaniment of singing accompanied with tifa (pondatu) and gong (mawon) musical instruments. The lyric of the song is adjusted to the meaning of the ceremony performed.

Bamboo Flute

Being played in groups of at least 6 people, bamboo flute is usually used in events such as guest welcoming, religious activities and funerals. Four people play a bamboo flute, each of a different size, producing soprano, alto, tenor and bass sounds. Two other people beat drums with different diameters from each other.  


Crafting has been carried out for generations and are still widely practiced, especially by women in Wandamen Bay, West Papua. The products are noken (traditional bags) and mats made of palm leaves. 

The Customary Laws 

Wandamen tribal culture ​​inherited by Wamesa people’s ancestors are strongly believed to be true as a standard for the behavior of the entire community of the largest tribe in West Papua. One of which is the “Sasi System” which is basically a form of prohibition carried out as an effort to regulate and supervise in utilizing and managing natural resources such as coconuts, nutmegs and durians, as well as gardens and marine products.

There are also other customs applied in the community, such as bringing the first harvest to the church and praying there to show gratitude in the hope that the next harvest will be better. The crops will eventually be shared with the others in the celebration.

The Rituals

The Wamesa people and other ethnic communities in Teluk Wondama Regency, West Papua, also have some rituals or ceremonies, including:


Also known as Parwabuk, Wamendereow is a traditional wedding ceremony. In this ceremony, the entire village will usually gathers and spreads a massive mat at the groom’s residence.

Kiuturu Nandauw

Commonly called Kakarukrorbun, Kiuturu Nandauw is a traditional ceremony to celebrate the first hair cutting for a 5-year-old child.

In addition to the rituals above, there are also other interesting rituals, such as ear piercing, taking a newborn out of the house for the first time, making a house for a grave and opening the door of a new house. More interestingly, there is also a long-standing tradition carried out for a New Year’s celebration, i.e. rubbing the face with charcoal mixed with coconut oil.


To conclude, Wamesa tribe and the other tribes inhabiting Wondama Bay have rich cultural products and traditions. This should be reserved well throughout generations despite the acceleration of developments in many sectors done by the government in both Papua and West Papua Provinces.

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