Noken, A Papuan Identity Knitwork – For the Papuan people, Noken contains its own philosophical meaning and living symbols. Noken is considered a symbol of Papuan women, fertility, kinship, economy, a good life, peace and identity. As an indigenous Papuan culture, Noken has a close relationship with nature.

Noken is made of basic material of bark fibers and natural dyes derived from plant roots and forest fruits. The plaits made by Papuan mothers (mother of tribes) are generally used as multipurpose containers.

From the excellence and uniqueness of these Noken, this typical Papuan knit bag is included in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) List as one of the “Intangible Cultural Heritage” or intangible heritage.

The chairman of Ania’s Noken, Merry Dogopia, said that the Noken is a traditional Papuan bag all Papuans must have. Papua has approximately 250 tribes, and each tribe is different in knitting the Noken. The material for creating of Noken is from bark fibers. However, not all of the bark is used, there are special trees that are taken. The process of working on the Noken is also unique, depending on its size.

Merry explained that the small-sized Noken only takes one day, while the medium to large-sized Noken can take a week. From the creative economy business sector, Noken can also be created into many forms besides its function as a bag. Several Indonesian designers have also promoted Noken to foreign countries in the creation of fashion products.

A National Fashion Designer, Yurita Puji revealed that Noken in general is a knit that can be applied in many things like the knitting in general. He argues that not many of ordinary people know Noken deeply, so that it is Yurita’s main reason for promoting this typical Papuan knit, both at home and abroad.

Personally, Yurita is interested in performing products that not many people are familiar with, or in processing complex fabrics or raw materials into a product. Apart from Papuan Noken, Yurita has also ever promoted the other products such as NTT weaving, Karawo of Gorontalo, Songket of Aceh, Songket of Padang, and Songket of Lampung, in several of his performances.

Yurita created the Noken into clothes, with design lines such as knitting by combining common materials on the market. The use of the combination itself is to make it easier in the manufacturing process, and also to make reducing of the production price more real, so that it can be received in the market.

The Program Director of the EcoNusa Foundation, Muhamad Farid, said that Noken made from the roots and fibers of various tree species is one proof of how the Indigenous People of Papua (OAP) are closely related to the usefulness given by the forest. In addition to equipment such as Noken, OAP also uses the other usefulness of forest ecosystem such as for medicine and food.

Therefore, we must help OAP for protecting their forests. So that the damage occuring, especially done by large-scale industries by converting the forests, must not be done, since forest conversion is similar to cut off the life of people in Tanah Papua, as well as the flora and fauna that make the forest their home. The forest environmental services are very important for the availability of fresh water, fresh air, as the lungs of the world and at the same time for absorbing CO2 which is the gas causing global warming.

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