7 Traditional Dances of the People of Papua and West Papua

Traditional Dance of the People of Papua – Papua has succeeded in attracting domestic and foreign tourists with its natural beauty. Not only presenting its natural charm, Papua also has traditional arts and culture that can attract the attention of tourists, one of which is in the form of traditional dances.

Papuan traditional dances are a national asset in the field of Nusantara art. When compared to other traditional dances throughout the archipelago, traditional dances in Papua have unique characteristics. This is because dances from the eastern part of Indonesia present a number of meanings that are closely related to everyday life, namely to express emotions and local culture.

The traditional dances of the Papuan people can be said to be a reflection of identity that must be understood by everyone, not just residents who live in the Papua region.

So, what are the traditional dances from Papua? In the following, an explanation will be presented of several traditional Papuan dances and the unique facts behind them, taken from the Indonesian Cultural Digital Library website managed by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Research and Technology.

1. Soanggi Dance

The first traditional dance of the people of Papua, namely the Soanggi Dance, is a traditional dance originating from the Cendrawasih Bay coastal area, Waropen Regency, West Papua Province. The initial existence of the Soanggi dance is not very clear, but this dance is a form of expression for the people of West Papua which is still thick with magical nuances. The dance originates from the story of a husband whose wife died as a result of being attacked by a creature called anggi-anggi or soanggi (invention), in Java it is usually called memedi .

According to local people’s beliefs, soanggi is an evil spirit that has not found comfort in the afterlife. The evil spirit will usually possess a woman’s body. If the victim has been attacked, the tribal chiefs will immediately find out what soanggi has harmed the victim as a precaution.

The thickness of this magical nuance is then realized into the Soanggi dance which is known today. Before the dancers start dancing, they must first perform a ritual led by the tribal chief.

This dance is performed by dozens of male dancers and a person who acts as a leader armed with a shield and machete. They wore tassels as a lower body cover. The dance is described as a war between residents armed with bows and arrows and a soanggi . In that war, soanggi can be the winning side.

The movements in the dance function to expel evil spirits that are still bound by promises and have not been fulfilled. Every movement made in this dance is more like the activity of a shaman or someone who has magical powers that will cure a disease.

The clothing worn by the dancers uses traditional West Papuan clothing. The accompaniment of this dance uses drums and shell trumpets, as well as the songs performed by the dancers. This dance is only shown when a resident dies, not for a public performance or art performance.

2. Awaijale Rilejale Dance

The second traditional dance of the people of Papua, namely the Awaijale Rilejale Dance, is a traditional dance typical of the Sentani tribe who live in the Sentani District, Jayapura Regency, Papua Province. This dance depicts the natural beauty of Lake Sentani at dusk, when residents return from work by boat.

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This dance is performed by a group of men and women. When performing the dance, they wear traditional clothes called Pea Malo. The clothing is made of genemo tree fiber, bark, and sago leaves, and is complemented by hamboni (beaded necklace) jewelry.

3. Aluyen Dance

The third traditional dance of the Papuan people, namely the Aluyen Dance, is a traditional dance originating from the Aimas District, Sorong Regency, West Papua Province. The mention of the name Aluyen dance comes from two syllables, namely alu which means “song” and yen which means “to sing”. Overall, this dance means “a song that is sung”. The initial existence of this dance has existed since Indonesia was not yet independent.

Aluyen dance is a traditional dance that is usually performed as part of a traditional ceremony, namely building a new house and opening a new garden. The dance can be performed during the day or night. However, if it is held in a traditional house, the show can last 1–2 months.

This dance is performed by men and women, as well as a person who acts as a leader. The leader of the dance stands in front of the other dancers, followed by female and male dancers in two rows extending backwards.

In general, the basic movement of this dance is a free walking style according to the rhythm while swaying the hips (in the local language it is called awlete, which means the motion of the hips swaying). The clothes worn in this dance are called kamlanan , a type of cloth from the local area.

Until now, the variety of clothing and dance accessories has not changed much, both male and female dancers. Accessories used include bracelets made of li (beads), saika (silver bracelets), medik (bracelets made of a certain type of string), and eme (jewelry made of yellow or red pandan leaves).

4. Det Pok Mbui Dance

The fourth traditional dance of the Papuan people, namely the Det Pok Mbui Dance, is a traditional dance originating from three sub-districts in Merauke Regency, Papua Province, namely Agats, Sauwa Ema, and Pirimapun. The initial existence of this dance has existed since Indonesia was not yet independent. The mention of the name Det Pok Mbui dance comes from two syllables, namely det which means “a devil-like mask” and pok mbui which means “party” or “ceremony”. Overall, this dance has the meaning of “demon masquerade ceremony”.

This dance is performed by a group of men and women in the afternoon or evening after harvesting sago, with a duration of 2–4 hours. Generally, this dance is performed on the banks of the river because there is a boat ride scene.

The arrangement in the Det Pok Mbui dance, namely the traditional leader or ceremonial leader stands in the middle of the arena, then calls the dancers with fu or tifa as a sign that the dance will begin soon; the dancers or ceremony participants then gather on the stage.

The accompaniment of this dance uses the musical instruments tifa and fu (bamboo horn), while the accompaniment song that is sung is jipai so (demon or spirit). For dance movements include jiwi-ndil (movement of the hips), a-ndi (movement of the buttocks), and ban-ndi (movement of the limbs).

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When performing the dance, the dancers decorate their faces and bodies with charcoal and lime. The clothing worn by the male dancers is a skirt made of cassowary feathers, while the female dancers wear a dress called awer (grass skirt). The dancer’s accessories include anklets, wristbands and armlets, while the neck is decorated with necklaces made of dog teeth, pig fangs or beads.

5. Afaitaneng Dance

The fifth traditional dance of the people of Papua, namely the Afaitaneng Dance, is a traditional dance originating from the Ambai Islands District, Yapen Islands Regency, West Papua Province. The initial existence of this dance has existed since Indonesia was not yet independent. This dance is included in traditional dances related to heroism. The mention of the name of the Afaitaneng dance comes from two syllables, namely afai which means “arrow” and taneng which means “belonging”. Overall, this dance means “our arrows”.

The dance is generally performed all night during the afternoon or evening after war. The dance depicts the greatness, strength, and victory of the war troupe against the enemy armed with bows.

The Afaitaneng dance is performed in groups by male and female dancers by forming a circle or line formation. The composition of this dance is divided into three parts, namely a group of female dancers mourning the corpses of slaves in the first part, a group of male dancers showing their prowess in archery in the second part, and a mixed group of dancers celebrating the victory over the enemy in the third part.

The clothing worn by the dancers is kuwai (loincloth), which is decorated with beads and bracelet jewelry. The dancers also bring additional accessories in the form of afai (arrows) and umbee (machetes). The accompaniment of this dance uses the fikainotu (tifa) and tibura (triton) musical instruments , while the accompaniment song that is sung is nimasae .

6. Aniri Dance

So, that’s a brief explanation of the 7 Traditional Dances of the People of Papua and West Papua: Facts and Explanations. These dances generally fade away with the times. For this reason, friends of Sinaumed’s, let us protect and preserve the culture of our ancestors together. Do not let us lose to cultures from outside Indonesia which are now better known globally, such as Anime, Korean Pop, and Gangnam Style Dance.

Sinaumed’s can also visit sinaumedia’s book collection at www.sinaumedia.com to obtain references on social conditions in Papua and West Papua. The following are recommendations for sinaumedia books that Sinaumed’s can read to study them in full. Happy reading.

Find other interesting things at www.sinaumedia.com. sinaumedia as #FriendsWithoutLimits will always present interesting articles and recommendations for the best books for Sinaumed’s.

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Author: Fandy Aprianto Rohman