Noken Papua, a World Cultural Heritage with a Deep Meaning

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noken papua

Google today (4/12) chose Papuan noken as part of the Google Doodle to celebrate the recognition of the traditional Papuan bag as a world cultural heritage by UNESCO in 2012.

Noken is a traditional Papuan bag. Usually, noken is made of wood fibers, leaves, or orchid stems, which are woven or knitted.

The Ministry of Education and Culture said, in Papua, the skill of a woman knitting noken is considered as a sign of maturity.

In addition, for the Papuan people, noken is not just a bag to carry everyday items, but has values ​​taught by the ancestors of the Papuan people across generations.

In a discussion held in November 2019, the head of the Papua Noken Foundation, Titus Christoforus Pekei, said that initially noken was an object that was often underestimated.

“We have to re-explore the values of noken. Noken teaches us about sharing, democracy and truth,” Titus said at that time, quoting the Ministry of Education and Culture’s website.

For the various values ​​contained in Papuan noken, this handicrafts of the community were then submitted as cultural heritage to the United Nations Agency for Education, Science and Culture or UNESCO.

The submission was approved. On 4 December 2012, noken was designated as an intangible world cultural heritage by UNESCO in Paris, France, along with a number of other cultural heritages from Kyrgyzstan, Uganda and Bostwana.

By UNESCO, noken is classified in the category of “in Need of Urgent Safeguarding” or cultural heritage that requires urgent protection.

“Noken is a knitted net or woven bag handmade from wood fibers or leaves by people in Papua and West Papua Provinces, Indonesia,” UNESCO wrote in the announcement of the stipulation.

“Used to carry crops, catch, firewood, babies, or small animals, as well as for shopping and storing things at home. Noken can also be worn or given as a peace offering,” continued UNESCO.

“However, the number of people making and using Noken has decreased in the face of competition from factory-made bags and problems in sourcing raw materials.” UNESCO wrote.

Meanwhile, considering the various factors that threaten the sustainability of Papuan noken, Titus hopes that the noken museum in Jayapura will soon be realized so that it can become a place for community learning related to noken, especially for the younger generation. Not only that, Titus hopes that noken can become local content in various schools in Papua.