by Senaman
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It cannot be denied that the death of a loved one is the most saddening thing in human life. West Papua has a dance that relates to the story of a husband who was left behind by his wife. The dance is called Suanggi, which is a traditional dance from West Papua. This dance is believed to have a sacred, magical, and traditional nuance within it. The dance eventually became an important part of the community’s tradition in West Papua.

The dance Suanggi is a form of expression for the people of West Papua who still believe in the magical aspect of their art. The dance has a deep meaning, originating from the story of a husband who was killed by a supernatural creature. According to the beliefs of the local community, Suanggi is a malevolent spirit that has not yet found comfort and tranquility in the world of the living. This magical aspect is then incorporated into the dance Suanggi. Before performing the dance, the dancer must first undergo a ritual led by the head of the tribe.

On the website of the Ministry of Education and Culture of the Republic of Indonesia (KEMENDIKBUD), Suanggi is used to drive away malevolent spirits, and Suanggi also drives away restless spirits, in the sense of ‘restless spirits’.

The movements in the dance Suanggi resemble the activities of a shaman or a person with magical powers who will heal a certain illness. The costume of the Suanggi dance uses traditional West Papua clothing. The dance is often performed when there is a deceased member of the community, not for the sake of art or public performance. This shows how sacred the dance is.

The Suanggi dance is performed by 16 male dancers and 2 female dancers, using traditional West Papua clothing. As mentioned earlier, the dance is not performed randomly, and Suanggi is only performed when there is an unexpected death. Therefore, the dance is not easily found and is rarely performed at cultural festivals or in general.


In the beliefs of the local community, Suanggi is a term for a spirit whose spirit is not at peace, even haunting the living world. According to the beliefs of the people of West Papua, even the spirits of those who still have a promise are capable of entering the body of a living person, and these spirits are then called malevolent spirits or Kapes in the local language.

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