Interesting Variety of West Papua Art: Traditional and Contemporary

Get to Know West Papua Art

West Papua has many arts and crafts that have attracted world attention because of their uniqueness and beauty. Several types of West Papua art have solid cultural values because the community makes them with a deep philosophy.

If you want to learn some famous and must-know West Papua arts and crafts, please refer to the explanations in the article below!

Variety of Wisdom and Culture of West Papua

Many Types of West Papua Art

The Papuan people have a lot of local wisdom that is inherent in people’s daily lives. Several types of local wisdom are in the form of ideas, social behavior, and cultural products. [1] 

So, some examples of arts and crafts from West Papua that you should know include:

1. Noken

Noken is a typical Papuan craft that often steals the attention of tourists because of its unique shape. The bag, slung over the forehead, has many functions, such as a shopping bag, agricultural produce, school bag, and so on.

This bag is made of plant skin, usually caused by Papuan “Mama.” However, over time, noken is also made of knitted wool yarn.

With this innovation, it is unsurprising that many tourists target noken for everyday use because of its unique and distinctive shape.

Even though anyone can use this noken, not everyone can make it. Only Papuans are allowed to, so Papuan girls have started studying from a young age. [2] 

2. Yospan Dance

Yospan dance is one of the Papuan dances included in the famous contemporary, traditional dances from Papua.

Its popularity is not only in Papua but on a national scale. The proof is that at the opening of the 2018 Asian Games at Gelora Bung Karno, Jakarta, this dance was one of the openings. [3] 

Yospan dance is a combination of two dances, namely Yosim and Pancar. This dance is an artistic performance and a friendly or social dance.

Everyone is welcome to dance because there is no limit to the number of participants. With a circle formation, the dancers will walk around while dancing. If anyone wants to join, they can enter the circle.

3. Sago Music Show (Da’) Vs. Palm Oil

This musical performance combines traditional Papuan musical instruments and modern musical instruments.

This appearance is the work of an artist named Septina Rosalia Layan. The background of this show takes his experience in Papua, where more and more forests are being displaced due to oil palm plantations.

This resulted in reduced sago trees. As you know, sago is not only a staple food but also a cultural identity for the people of Papua.

  • The show is divided into three parts, namely:
  • Part 1: showing disappointment and anxiety because of the disappearing sago
  • Part 2: the battle over the choice of “sago or palm oil”
  • Part 3: regrets, sorrow, prayers, and hopes of the people

On the stage, two sago fronds act as a stage backdrop.

Meanwhile, the accompanying musical instruments include the fuu (a musical instrument made of shells), pico (a traditional tug instrument typical of the Central Highlands of Papua), Tifa, and piano.

4. Papuan Batiks

Like most parts of Indonesia, West Papua also has its unique batik.

Even though the number of batik motifs from Papua is quite large, currently, many parties are starting to participate in developing new motifs so that there are more variations.

In the program for making new motifs, the people of Papua received training from Yogyakarta batik makers.

In this training, some of the newest motifs were introduced, such as cassowary birds, Asmat wood carvings, and carvings usually found on boards, wood, and Tifa.

Papuan batik can follow trends with these new motifs without abandoning its characteristics.

With a few examples of West Papua art above, it can be seen that West Papua is not only rich in natural resources but also in terms of art and culture.