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NOKEN “Unique Papuan Traditional Bag Recognized by UNESCO”

by Senaman
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CULTURE – Papua is Indonesia’s easternmost land with all its uniqueness. Not only the food, culture, houses and traditional clothes, the crafts are also quite unique, one of the world-famous Papuan crafts is the Noken.

Noken is a unique traditional Papuan bag made from tree bark fiber, usually from the wood of the nenduam tree, nawa trees, and forest orchids. Almost 250 tribes in Papua use noken which functions to carry daily necessities and carry agricultural and garden products, such as vegetables, tubers and other merchandise to the market.

What makes Noken to be world famous traditional bags?. If people usually carry bags on their shoulders or carry them with their hands, Papuans carry noken bags using their heads. When we see about  its uniqueness, December 4 2012, noken was designated as traditional work and world cultural heritage by UNESCO, this designation was carried out by Arley Gill, Chair of the 7th Session of the Inter-Governmental Committee for the Protection of Intangible Cultural Heritage at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France.

Noken bags have various sizes, ranging from small to jumbo sizes which are usually used by Papuan mothers, farmers and are also used to lift quite heavy agricultural materials, Papuan people use large sized Noken (Yatoo) to carry firewood. , shopping goods, harvested plants, and also for carrying children, medium-sized bags (Gapagoo) are used to carry moderate amounts of shopping and small-sized bags (Mitutee) are used to carry personal items and are often also used by school and college students. Apart from that, Noken bags are also given as gifts to people who are going to Papua for the first time.

Uniquely, the noken is carried using the forehead or front of the head and draping it behind their back. The uniqueness of this traditional Papuan bag is an attraction for tourists and immigrants who visit Papua. This noken bag is usually used as a souvenir and souvenir for their families.

Behind its uniqueness, noken has a philosophy that is no less interesting, noken is a symbol of a good life, love of peace, fertility for the people of the Land of Papua, especially those who live in the Central Mountains of Papua, such as the Yali Tribe, Lani Tribe, Damal Tribe and the Bauzi.

Only native Papuan women are allowed to make this traditional bag. Since childhood, women have learned to make noken. In fact, noken is a symbol of a woman’s maturity, if she is not yet good at making noken, a woman is not considered an adult. On the other hand, Papuan women who have mastered how to make noken are considered adults and only then can marry.

The way to make a Noken bag is a little complicated because it uses a manual method from raw wood which is processed, dried, the fibers are sorted, then manually spun into thread or rope, the coloring of the Noken is done using natural dyes, the time needed to make a small bag reaches two to three weeks, while large bags can take three weeks, even two to three months, in the Sauwadarek area, Papua, we can still witness the process of making noken directly and the price of this bag varies between IDR 25,000 to IDR 50,000 per bag. and it depends on the type and size.

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