Koteka, Culture, and Modernity Shock

Koteka, Culture, and Modernity Shock

goodmorningpapua.com – Koteka is an almost extinct traditional Papuan clothes. Yet it turns out, Koteka has many stories to tell. Koteka is now something expensive that tourists can find if they go to the Papua Island. A shifting teaches something new and better, namely modern clothes. Apart from that, not all Papuans wear a Koteka made of pumpkin.

For one reason or another, they replace it with another material, one of example of bark. In the culture of the coastal tribes of Papua, either on the north coast, south coast, the Bird’s Head coast or the tribes living on the Papuan offshore island, they do not wear Koteka but they wear bark.

Then there is the Marind Tribe inhabiting Merauke to the southern coast of Papua New Guinea. There is one interesting thing about this tribe. Their Koteka is different from one you probably already see. Unlike the Marind tribe, their Koteka is made of coconut shells because of it is difficult to find pumpkins in coastal areas.

Usually the Koteka people in Wamena wear is made of pumpkins and long in size. It is different from the Marind tribe’s which is made from coconut shells. Yes, the coconut shell will cover (sorry) the genitals. This is because of difficulty to find pumpkins in the area.

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Historically, the first Koteka came from the Dani Tribe in the Baliem Valley. They make Koteka from pumpkins (Melongena SP). This pumpkin plant is planted in the Honai garden or yard. Only men are allowed to plant these pumpkins, to take care of  them, and to harvest them. This pumpkin plant grows organically, and is allowed to creep  on wooden supports as high as one to three meters as prop.  Moreover,  sometimes Koteka is also made from a wild growing gourds.

The way to make koteka is that an old pumpkin is cut at the end, then the seeds are taken out. To make it easier to remove the seeds, the pumpkin fruit is lightly burned on the fireplace. After that, the pumpkin fruit, which is clean from the grains, is dried in the fireplace. At the end of the dry pumpkin is hollowed using a sharp  cuscus or pork bone. This hole is for the waist strap.

Traditionally, the tribes in Papua who wear the Koteka are the Dani, the Lani, the Yali, the Mee and the Amungme. The Dani tribe calls Koteka Holim. The Mee tribe calls it Bobee, the Amungme tribe calls it Sanok.

Currently, the Koteka is only used during the Baliem Valley Cultural Fest, attraction for tourist visit or other traditional events. They have worn modern-styled clothes for everyday life.

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