Getting to know Noken

Getting to Know Noken, a Typical Papuan Knitting Bag Full of Philosophy

Noken is a traditional knitting bag originating from Papua. This bag is made from bark fibers from nawa, memduam, or forest orchid trees. Papuans usually use noken to carry daily goods or agricultural products such as tubers, vegetables, and so on.
In addition to its interesting manufacturing process, noken also has its own uniqueness, namely how to carry it. In general, people carry bags by hand or carried on their shoulders, but noken bags are carried on the head.

Because of this uniqueness, noken began to be recognized as a traditional work and world cultural heritage by UNESCO in 2012.

In Papua there are several sizes of noken bags that are used according to the items to be carried. To carry agricultural products and bakaar wood, Papuans usually use large-sized noken or called yatoo. In addition, this size noken can also be used to carry children.

To carry groceries, they use a medium-sized noken called gapagoo. While small-sized noken or mitutee is used to carry personal items. This type of noken is generally used by students and college students. Over time, noken is often used as a typical Papuan souvenir for tourists.

The Philosophy of Noken Bags

Papuans usually carry noken by placing it on the forehead or the front of the head then rolling it towards the back of the back.

Behind this uniqueness, it turns out that noken has a deep philosophy. Noken is a symbol of good life, love of peace, and fertility for the land of Papua. What is interesting is that noken bags can only be made by native Papuan women.

They have been taught to make noken since childhood. Even the Papuan people consider that women who have not been able to make noken mean that they have not become mature women.

If women can make noken well and beautifully, it means they are mature and ready to get married.

How Noken is Made

Native Papuan women make noken manually. The wood is dried first and the fibers are selected. Then, the material will be spun manually using yarn or rope. For coloring they use natural materials such as pandanus leaves and so on.

In general, it takes 2-3 weeks to produce one small noken bag. While a large noken takes up to 2 months.

With a manual manufacturing process and using natural materials, noken is much sought after by tourists from within and outside the country. The price for one noken bag ranges from Rp50 thousand only.


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