West Papua : The Birds Head Of Papua
Papua is the common name that refers to the western half of the Island of New Guinea (Indonesian New Guinea). The province of West Papua, also known as West Irian Jaya, covers the birds head of Papua, a large peninsula on Indonesian New Guineas far northwest corner, and the small islands that surround it. Geographic boundaries of this province are the Pacific Ocean in the north; Seram Sea in the west; Banda Sea in the south; and Papua province in the east.
Administratively, the Province of West Papua consists of eight regencies and one municipality. The regencies are Fak-fak, Kaimana, Wondama Bay, Bintuni Bay, Manokwari, Sorong Selatan, Sorong, and Raja Ampat, and the municipality is called Sorong. This province has 103 sub-districts, 47 Villages and 1153 kampong/kampung (small villages).
This province, with its capital is in Manokwari city, has immense natural resource potential including agriculture, mining, forest products and eco-tourism. Pearls and sea weed are the main trade goods of Raja Ampat Regency, while Sorong Selatan Regency is the only regency producing unique traditional woven clothes called Timor clothes. A national Park known as Cendrawasih Bay situated in Wondama Gulf Regency is also the main natural tourism in this Province. And of course, many visitors come to enjoy the marine bio-diversity of Raja Ampat.
The entry point into this province is via Rendani Airport situated in the provincial capital city, Manokwari, to travel throughout West Papua.
Lion Air and Citilink serve daily flights to and from Manokwari via Makassar. Cab services are available in the airport.
The Papua region has been visited by global traders since the beginning of the 7th century. European nations kept a presence in the region in the 16th century in the pursuit of various spices.
Irian Jaya became part of the Dutch East Indies in 1828 as West Papua Nugini (or New Guinea), which was then known as West Irian. The region remained occupied by the Netherlands long after Indonesia claimed its independence in 1949. After West Irian’s long freedom struggle, the province eventually reverted to the lap of Indonesia in 1969.
Based on the regulation no. 45 Year 1999, the region covering the bird head of Papua Island is stipulated as West Irian Jaya and it also consists of the small islands of Papua province. Since 7 February 2007, this province was officially named West Irian Jaya, or West Papua.
Papeda is the most famous dish in Papua. It’s glue-like in appearance, like a porridge, and best consumed when hot. Instead of chewing it, you should just swallow. Prepare cold water around you to cool down if it feels too hot.
Made from sago pam tree, it takes quite some time to prepare the raw material. One needs to chop down the tree first, then divide it in two. Collect the inside material of the tree and then process it for papeda.
PEOPLE AND CULTURE
The traditional houses of Papua are unique. In Papua, the traditional house, or Honai, is rounded with a coarse grass roof and wooden walls without windows. Traditional musical instruments of Papua are the atowo, tifa and fu.
A unique product of Papua’s indigenous peoples is koteka clothes; a penis sheath made of a hollowed gourd. The size and type of koteka is not related to the status of user. Many ethnic groups in Papua are distinguished by their way of wearing koteka. Furthermore, a short koteka is used when working, and a long decorated koteka is used in traditional ceremonies.
Another interesting aspect of Papua’s tribal and cultural history is mummies, usually just the tribal leaders or war commanders preserved with traditional ingredients in order to glorify their historical or religious importance. There are 3 mummies that can be seen in Papua; Aikima Mummy at Aikama, Jiwika Mummy at Jiwika, and Purno Mummy at Asologaima. The three mummies are located in Wamena.
There are 24 tribes with different languages spoken daily in Papua. Papua is frequently connected with the Asmat and Dani ethnic groups. A popular product of the Asmat group is wooden sculpture, internationally known for its beauty.
This provincial region is not divided based on the tribes living in the region. The tribes population are spread out in number of regions. For example, the Arfak tribe occupies Arfak the mountain area from Manokwari Regency to Bintuni Regency. The Doteri tribe is a migrant group claiming territory from Numfor Island in the coastal area of Wondama regency. Other groups sharing this area are the Kuri, Simuri, Irarutu, Sebyar, Moscona, Mairasi, Kambouw, Onim, Sekar, Maibrat, Tehit, Imeko, Moi, Tipin, Maya and Biak tribes.
Other minority ethnic groups inhabiting this province include Java, Bugis, Batak, Dayak, Manado, Tionghoa and others.
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