Reviving and Promoting West Papua’s Traditional Arts

Get to Know West Papua's Traditional Arts

Regional language, clothing, dance, musical instruments, etc., are an identity for the West Papua’s communities. Therefore, collaborative efforts to revive and promote it are urgently needed.

Ethnicity, regional language, traditional house, clothes, dance, instruments – West Papua is rich in diverse arts and culture. Thus, it deserves to be revived. The information below is comprehensive info about West Papua’s traditional arts as well as the government’s efforts to revive them in the era of globalization.

The Diversity of Traditional Arts in West Papua

The excitement of West Papua's Traditional Arts

As we have known, West Papua has a variety of arts and culture. Here are some of the instances.

Ethnicity and Regional Language

Nowadays, West Papua is inhabited by indigenous Papuans and people from other tribes in Indonesia. Among others are the Javanese, Batak, Bugis, and so on[1]. Meanwhile, Papuan indigenous tribes living in this province are Yapen, Ayfat, Biak-Numfor, and many others.

Other than that, West Papua’s regional languages are also quite diverse. There are more than 100 regional languages in West Papua[2], among other are:

1. Meyah Language

It is the language spoken by the people of Kampung Meyes in the North Manokwari district.

2. Windesi Language

It is a language spoken by the people in several villages in the district of Teluk Wondama.

3. Hatam Language

It is the language of the people of Kampung Warmere, Manokwari Regency.

Traditional Houses and Clothing

Some traditional houses of this province are Rumsram and Mod Aki Aksa’s (Igkojei) houses. The Mod Aki Aksa, or the Thousand Feet House, is a traditional house of the people of the Arfak tribe[3].

Additionally, the people of West Papua have traditional clothing as well, such as Ewer, Serui, Yokal, and Sali [4]. They are generally made from dried tree bark, leaves, or straw.

West Papua Regional Arts

This category consists of traditional dance and musical instruments. The traditional musical instruments preserved by the local community include Tifa, Krombi, Yi, Triton, etc.

Meanwhile, many traditional dances originating from West Papua include the Afaitaneng dance, Aluyen dance, Soanggi/Suanggi dance, Aniri dance, and many more[5].

Government Efforts in Reviving and Promoting Traditional Arts

Government Efforts to Promote West Papua's Traditional Arts

In order to revive and promote traditional arts in the province of West Papua, the government is making various efforts. For example:

1. Conduct Training to Improve the Management of Traditional Arts Institutions

The training was organized by the Culture and Tourism Office of West Papua province. Around 65 artists from several studios in Kaimana were attending this event. Similar training was also carried out in districts such as Fakfak and Teluk Bintuni.

With this event, the government hopes that various arts and cultures will get better management and development. This event is also expected to encourage artists to innovate in managing and utilizing facilities in their respective studios.

2. Increasing Awareness of the Young Generation

Efforts to increase awareness of the younger generation on the importance of preserving local wisdom are manifested by socializing and training children’s creativity in the regions.

In addition, the government also encourages parties to provide a platform and space to hone the younger generation’s creativity, for example, by holding art festivals. 

One of the examples is the West Papua Students art festival which took place at the UNIPA Hall, Manokwari, in March 2023]. There was also a traditional music concert that was held at the Borarsi field in September 2022].

3. Encouraging Artists and Performers to Have Intellectual Property Rights

The government also encourages every artist and performer in any arts and culture studio to get legal protection. To do so, they must register their work. That way, they have intellectual property rights and legality.

4. Provides a Platform for West Papuan Artists 

One of the problems in development in the field of culture is the unavailability of a representative facility for artists and cultural communities in West Papua[6]. Therefore, many parties propose building art buildings and cultural parks to the government.

Meanwhile, in the field of regional languages, currently, there are 9 regional languages from all provinces in the land of Papua, which have been successfully revitalized. Some of them are Hatam language in Manokwari, Moi language in Sorong, Biak language, etc. [6].

So, that’s all about West Papua’s traditional arts and efforts in reviving and promoting them. What is your opinion about these efforts?