West Papua Handicraft Industry: Traditional Weaving to Modern Fashion

west papua

Having so many tribes which are scattered in different regions, West Papua has a rich and diverse culture.

There are over 400 tribes in West Papua, and each tribe owns its rich and unique traditions, culture, and customs.

Among hundreds of tribes living on this beautiful Island, there are seven most well-known tribes,

Namely the Asmat tribe, Amungme tribe, Dani tribe, Korowai tribe, Muyu tribe, Bauzi tribe, and Huli tribe.

What makes tribes in West Papua so special are their arts and crafts, which become part of their cultural identities.

These arts and crafts have made not only Indonesian but also the world amazed.

As for Papuans, these handicrafts have become a promising industry. From traditional weaving to modern fashion, here is West Papua’s prospering handicraft industry.

Beautiful and Unique Charm of West Papua‘s Handicraft

Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy (Menparekraf) Sandiaga Salahuddin Uno has stated that West Papua is one of the priorities in the development of Indonesian tourist destinations.

Besides the spectacular natural scenery, West Papua’s handicrafts can also attract tourists.

There are so many handicrafts that come from indigenous ethnic groups living on this Island. They are beautiful and have deep historical and cultural significance.

In fact, some of these handicrafts have been exhibited worldwide.

In September 2022, this province joined Village International Gastronomy in France to exhibit various handicrafts made from mangrove plants.

West Papua‘s Thriving Handicraft Industry

So what are West Papua’s handicrafts that transform into a successful creative industry? Here is the list:

1. Noken or Minya

The Noken bag is an original Papuan knitting bag made of natural wood fiber material. Papuans usually like to wear Noken by putting it on their heads.

However, you can wear Noken wherever you want, either on your hands or your head. Noken is considered a potential creative economic business that can be developed.

This traditional and natural knitting bag has been listed on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List since 2012.

Besides having unique and beautiful shapes and colors, Noken is a symbol of a good life, love of peace, and fertility for the people in West Papua.

2. Papuan Batik

Besides Javanese, West Papua has its own Batik. Batik from Papua is called Batik Port Numbay. It is so beautiful and stunning because of its unique Papuan statue and birds of paradise motifs.

The Cenderawasih motif represents the wealth, beauty, and elegance of nature and the fauna of Papua.

The Asmat motif illustrates the uniqueness and tradition of wood carving statues of the Papuan people.

Meanwhile, the Komoro motif depicts the creativity, passion, and courage of the indigenous Papuans.

The local and central governments believe Papuan Batik can improve the welfare of locals.

3. Genuine and Certified Crocodile Leather Products

Crocodile leather has long been use in the world’s fashion industry.

The Crocodile skin becomes superior in this industry because the skin is hard and strong, making it a perfect and high-valued material for various items such as bags, shoes, wallets, and others.

Crocodile leather craft has become one of the icons of this easternmost city in Indonesia.

Producing this leather product takes a long process and skills. This leather handicraft is a very promising product with high economic value.

4. Shell Accessories

This handicraft can be find in many in Raja Ampat. With abundant marine life, people who live near Misool, Raja Ampat create crafts from the clamshell.

After consuming the clam meat, people in Raja Ampat create interesting decorative works with the economic value of the clam shells.

The clam shells are make into a necklace with shell pendants, combs with small shell ornaments, and shell brooches.

These decorative works are combine with various additional items or details like beads, sea stones, or colorful fabrics.

5. Human Statue

The human statue handicrafts are arts produce by the Asmat tribe. In fact, Asmat’s wooden sculptures are internationally recognize as high-class works of art.

The Asmat sculptors usually use stone axes, animal teeth, and shells as their tools.

They also use pig tucks, fish teeth, and oysters to smooth out the fracture. The Asmat statue is one of the characteristics of the Papua region.

Those are five of West Papua’s thriving handicrafts. In the field of cultural arts, West Papua has many excellent products.