West Papua curiosities, traditons and customs
The Cendrawasih, the bird of paradise
It is the Indonesian name of one of the endemic bird species of Papua and other surrounding areas better known as a bird of paradise. The name of this bird is significant, the combination of beautiful colors like blue, red, green, yellow and even the gold of the feather seems truly heavenly. His discovery is due to an Italian explorer such Antonio Pigafetta who in 1522 brought him to Europe to the king of Spain. There are numerous types of Cendrawasih classified according to their shapes and colors, all examples of a nature capable of creating spectacular variants and species. However, there are two main types in general; they are blue and red Cendrawasih. Blue Cendrawasih is also known as Paradisaea rudolphi in which the average size reaches 30 cm. Being able to admire these birds is not easy, you have to know the areas where they live, typically in the dense forests where they hide well. They can be observed almost only at dawn when males sing to attract females thus allowing them to be identified more easily. Unfortunately, Cendrawasih is included in the list of nearly extinct animals in Indonesia due to deforestation for the production of agricultural land.
The tribal festival of Baliem
This festival is an opportunity for the different ethnic groups that inhabit the central highlands of West Papua to meet and celebrate their annual festival. The ethnic groups that are found are the Dani (famous Aborigines of the highlands), the Lani and the Yali (one of the pygmy tribes that live in the mountains and rarely exceed the height of 1.50 cm). Located in the middle of the mountains of the same name, Baliem is an impressive green valley that has long been hidden and isolated. On the occasion of the Festival, various tribes that live around the area send groups to represent their traditions, dances and cultures giving visitors the perfect opportunity to experience the wealth of tribal cultures of Papua. The climax of the Festival are the fake tribal battles that are held to maintain men's agility and physical preparation for the defense of their villages. To prepare for these battles, the organizers prepare a large outdoor arena where up to 1000 warriors and dancers perform. All the participants of the different tribes are dressed in typical costumes and stage a tribal war with spears and arrows. All this is accompanied by traditional Papuan music performed with the Pikon, a musical instrument made with the bark of wood that produces sounds by blowing into it. These sounds produce music with a calming effect and being able to play this instrument requires special skills. In addition to the simulated battles, many try their hand at cooking pork and vegetables underground, thus allowing you to understand more deeply the culture of the individual ethnic groups that inhabit these areas.
Raja Ampat legend
The main livelihood of these populations is fishing which has been practiced since time immemorial using spears, a difficult, demanding practice with uncertain results. The tribe of Moy has long adopted another fishing method based on tuba root powder, a plant that grows abundantly in these lands. Tuba root powder is a delicate toxin that makes fish dizzy making it easier to catch.
Well this dance is propitiatory for this fishing method, it is performed by male and female dancers who form 5 to 6 couples. The dancers wear dresses like skirts made of roots and leaves that are placed on the waist and a fur headdress of Cenderawasih (bird of paradise). Different ethnic paintings in black and white on the bodies of the dancers. Even the dancers wear the same clothes as men adapted to the shape of the body of women.
Men hold spears while women wear Noken for carrying fish (a knotted or woven bag that hangs on the head). This dance is not only accompanied by musical instruments but also traditional songs that describe the gratitude and joy of the whole community.