History of Papuan Noken Gets in UNESCO and Becomes a Google Doodle

goodmorningpapua.com – Noken is a bag commonly worn on the head by Papuans. The hand-made traditional handbags  have great cultural and socio-economic value throughout the Provinces of Papua and West Papua in Indonesia. It has been a long time since Indonesia fought for Noken to be included in the UNESCO list.

 In front of 26 members of the world heritage committee who are representatives from 189 countries, the trial for Noken was held on December 4, 2012. Finally, at 10.30 Paris time, France, UNESCO agreed, taking steps of saving by including the Noken in the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage that needs the urgent protection. Big steps have been taken to secure the sustainability of Noken for the forthcoming generations. How do you make a Noken?

The UNESCO official site explains how to make Noken. This bag is made by the knitted or woven nets made from wood fibers or leaves by people in Papua. These intricate handicrafts have been inherited from generation to generation. Making Noken requires the subtle tactile skills, dedication, and artistic vision.

This results in a durable bag and to be able be used by men and women to carry plantation products, catch from the sea or lake, firewood, babies or small animals and to shop and store items at home. Beyond the daily use, the traditional Noken also fulfills many social and economic purposes. For example, the Noken functions as a symbol of cultural unification of more than 250 tribes in the Papua region.

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Additionally, because of their value, they can be used as a type of savings, and often play a symbolic role in peaceful dispute resolution. Noken is also usually used for traditional celebrations, or given as a peace offering.

The method of making Noken varies in the midst  of communities, but in general, certain branches, the trunk or bark of trees or shrubs are felled, heated over a fire and immersed in water. The remaining wood fibers are dried and then spun into strong threads or ropes, which are sometimes colored with natural dyes. These ropes are tied by hand to make a mesh pockets of various patterns and sizes.

The manufacturing process also requires great manual skills, attention and a touch of art, and takes several months to master. However, unfortunately ople making and using the Noken is currently ever decreasing. This is due to a lack of awareness, the weak traditional transmission, a reduced number of craftsmen, competition with factory-made bags, problems in obtaining traditional raw materials easily and quickly, and a shift in cultural values.

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