by Senaman
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Asmat – Just like in movies such as ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ and ‘Moana’, where the environment is dominated by water and a little bit of land, the people of the Asmat tribe are also used to this environment. From ancestral times, they have been accustomed to activities through the water in their daily lives. As a means of transportation that takes them from one place to another or as an identity, the Asmat Tribe is famous for its Lesung Boat.

The Asmat tribe is known as a tribe that lives in swampy areas and close to water. In carrying out their activities, the Asmat have adapted to the aquatic environment from time to time. Because of this ecosystem of life on their native land, it requires the Asmat tribe to move from one place to another using water transportation.

Lesung Boat of the Asmat Tribe is a fairly unique boat, this boat is known to be made from one whole tree trunk shaped like a boat. The wood used by the Asmat people is taken from rarely used trees, such as Ketapang or Bitanggur. After being cut down, the bark of this tree trunk will be peeled clean, then the two ends of the tree trunk will be tapered. Next, the tree trunk is ready to be shaped like a boat.

It is known that the process of making a boat will take about 5 weeks if done traditionally. However, after the Asmat tribe began to recognize modern tools made of iron, one boat could be made only by taking 1-2 weeks. The logs that have been cut down will be smoothed, then all the grooved parts of the trunk will be straightened so that the boat can move normally on the water without being hampered by existing branches. When the boat is already in the shape of a space for passengers, all parts of the boat both outside and inside will be smoothed again with snail skin. The boat has begun to look at its shape after burning the bottom of the boat, this is done so that the boat becomes lighter when traveling on the water.

After the shape of the boat is deemed suitable for riding, the boat will be given a typical Asmat decoration. This decoration can be in the form of carved paintings on the outer wall of the boat. This decoration is not a necessity, boats that are used daily are usually very minimal in decoration. However, for the Asmat themselves, the decoration on the mortar boat has an important meaning, because it can be interpreted as a link between those who are still alive and their ancestors who have long been gone. The Asmat believe that every painting or carving contains an image and appreciation for the greatness of the Asmat Tribe which is dedicated to their ancestors.

In connection with this belief in ancestors, it is undeniable that most Asmat tribes usually have a ceremony performed after the boat is ready for use. There are some taboos when they make a mortar boat. They believe that there should not be much noise when they

make a boat. In addition, logs that have not touched the water should not be stepped on, because it will make the log difficult to move.

There are two types of Lesung boats, namely Lesung boats for families and boats for clans. Boats for families are usually smaller, measuring around 4-7 meters, and can be occupied by 2-5 people. While clan-specific boats are longer, around 10-20 meters and have a capacity of up to 20 people. Boats are also differentiated according to function, some boats are used just for fishing, hunting, and transportation. But there are also special boats used for war or long trips.

The oars that the Asmat people use are usually made of ironwood or forest nutmeg because of their durability. The size of the oars is known to be quite long because the Asmat usually drives the boat in a standing position. They consider the standing position to be alert if they are attacked by enemies or wild animals at any time. Because of their preparedness, the paddles used are generally pointed so that they can be used as well as weapons in the form of spears.

Until now, the Asmat tribe still maintains this tradition. They highly respect the existence of Lesung boats because they help smooth their life activities. In addition, Lesung boats are a means of transportation that is very close to nature and their ancestors. This proves that Indonesia is a maritime nation rich in tribes and cultures.

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