Papuan statues on display in The Diversity of Papuan Culture exhibition at Sarinah Mall in Central Jakarta on Monday. (JG Photo/Nur Yasmin)

New Lens On Papua: Cultural Exhibition Aims to Change Perspectives on Troubled Province


NOVEMBER 18, 2019

Jakarta. The Education and Culture Ministry is holding an exhibition of Papuan culture, titled "The Diversity of Papuan Culture," at the Sarinah Mall on Jalan Thamrin in Central Jakarta from Nov. 18 to Dec. 18.

The exhibition is part of the ministry's cultural diplomacy to show that Papua is part of Indonesia and an important contributor to the country's heritage.

The event will feature workshops, eco-fashion shows, painting classes, Papuan dance tutorials and culinary exhibitions.

There will also be booths selling Papuan coffee, clothing, batik, accessories, traditional medicine, handmade home appliances and more.

James Modouw, a special staff for central and regional relations at the ministry, said the event also aims to educate people about multiculturalism.

"We need to understand more of our diversity and multiculturalism through events like this. We want everyone to see what Papuan culture is really like," James said.

One of the more famous Papuan accessories on display at the exhibition is the noken, a traditional Papuan woven handbag that has been declared an intangible cultural heritage by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) in 2012.

Titus Pekei, the director of the Noken Foundation, said the noken is both an indispensable everyday accessory that Papuans often use as a carryall and a metaphor for Papuan society.

"The noken represents a system that all Papuans follow. The noken weave represents the bond and interconnectedness between Papuans. Making a noken requires commitment so it also represents a commitment to one's community. The Papuan mamas use it to carry their babies, so it is also a sacred object," Titus said at a discussion on Monday.

The noken is woven or knotted from wood fibers or leaves. Papuans use it to carry everything from fresh produce to small animals, firewood, even babies.

Unesco said the noken needs to be safeguarded since the artisans making it are disappearing. 

As many as 38 objects in Unesco's Intangible Cultural Heritage list are from Papua.

An informative board on 'Barappen', a cooking method among Papuan tribes which uses hot stones, at the Diversity of Papuan Culture exhibition, at Thamrin, Jakarta, on Monday. (JG Photo/Nur Yasmin)
A poster shows how Papuans make 'Barappen,' cooking food using hot stones, at The Diversity of Papuan Culture exhibition at Sarinah Mall in Central Jakarta on Monday. (JG Photo/Nur Yasmin)