Koteka is a product of traditional Indonesian culture originating from Papua. Apart from its unique shape and usage which is very different from clothes in general, this koteka is an inseparable part of history from the local Papuan community, especially some tribes who still use it on certain occasions.
The purpose of using the koteka is to cover the male genitals of the Papuan people. But over time, their use has become less and less frequent. Educated men in the Central Highlands and Dani Tribe who live in Wamena City, Papua rarely wear a koteka except during traditional ceremonies.
By looking at this condition, it is feared that the congested tradition will be destroyed by modernization, so it must be preserved. One way to do this is to put the koteka on the list for urgent protection from UNESCO.
Koteka can be categorized as an intangible cultural heritage. The 2003 UNESCO Convention on intangible cultural heritage states that intangible cultural heritage implies various practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, skills that are recognized by various communities, groups and in certain cases, individuals as part of their cultural heritage.
This intangible cultural heritage for communities, groups and individuals gives them a sense of identity and sustainability, helps them understand their world and gives meaning to their lives and the way they live in society.
The source of cultural diversity and clear evidence of the creative potential of humankind, intangible heritage is continually being created by successors, as this legacy is practiced and passed on from individual to individual and from generation to generation.
Indonesia has ratified the 2003 UNESCO Convention, this is stated in the Presidential Regulation of the Republic of Indonesia Number 78 of 2007 concerning Ratification of the Convention for the Protection of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Countries that have ratified the Convention on Intangible Cultural Heritage are committed to protecting and preserving the heritage by taking various measures such as protection, promotion and delivery through formal and non-formal education, research and revitalization, and to increase respect and awareness.
If it is related to the existence of the koteka in the central mountains of Papua, as a country that has ratified the 2003 UNESCO Convention, the Indonesian government is obliged to protect and preserve the koteka.
The 2003 UNESCO Convention states that intangible inheritance for all communities, large or small, dominant or not dominant, should be respected. This clearly emphasizes the importance of the active involvement of the community in protecting and preserving and managing the koteka as cultural heritage, because only they can maintain the existence and ensure the future of the heritage.
Not only the koteka of the Dani tribe, the koteka typical for men of the Yali tribe in Yalimo Regency, are also threatened with extinction, as more and more tribal members wear modern clothes.
Koteka is not only clothes, but also other functions. The traditional Yali clothes are becoming obsolete and only the older generation is wearing them. Meanwhile, the younger generation of the tribe prefers to use modern clothing made of cloth.
The traditional Yali clothing is a combination of a koteka and a rattan circle wrapped around the body. The Yali Koteka ingredient is a long pumpkin which is emptied and then dried in the sun on the fireplace. After drying, the gourd is placed on the genitals of the Yali tribe, and tied with a fine rattan rope wrapped around the waist to the stomach.
The rattan circles on the belly and torso, also indicate the level of courage of a man from that tribe. The more circles he has, the higher the level of courage and status he has. Because rattan only grows outside the Yali area, so the Yali used to say that rattan only grows in enemy territory, and to get it, you have to take risks.
Rattan circles and koteka are not just clothes and jewelery either. There is another use of this traditional dress, namely to make fire. The average Yali man makes a fire using a rattan rope as a match.
To make a fire, a Yali would take a piece of rattan from their clothing, about 60 centimeters long. The rattan is then wrapped around a piece of wood that is placed on the ground, surrounded by grass and dry branches.
Then, the man will stand, with each foot stepping on the end of the wood. With their hands, they will pull the rattan rope that was wrapped quickly up and down and rubbed against the wood, until smoke comes out, the fire starts to burn, and the end of the rope breaks up. After that, they covered the wood with grass and blew until it became a big fire.
Currently, the traditional Yali clothing is not well documented. It needs in-depth research and complete and good documentation, in various documentation methods, before this garment is completely extinct. The use of traditional clothing in cultural festivals and on national holidays can also be a way to preserve these clothes.
The History of Koteka Operation in the Mee Tribe
For Mee men, koteka is also used to cover their genitals. This Mee Tribe Koteka in Paniai, Deyai and Dogiyai Districts is made from dried pumpkin.
During the New Order era, with Presidential Decree No. 75/1969 a Task Force for the Development of Inland Communities in Irian Jaya was formed, which was later refined by Presidential Decree No. 27/1970.
At that time, based on the assessment of the Task Force team, the tribes in the interior, especially the Mee Tribe, lived in a tradition that could be said to still live in the “Stone Age”, they lived in men’s houses (Yamewa) and used koteka.
One of the Task Force team programs is to introduce the use of modern clothing to the public, to replace the koteka. This program is called Operation Koteka.
This program of ‘dressing’ the community has had a positive impact in terms of introducing the younger generation to new values. At first the program ran smoothly, but over time people began to leave and even refused the clothes they had obtained.
This happens because the clothes that are distributed among the people are worn every day without being washed and never changed. Dirty clothes cause itching and people cannot afford new laundry soap and clothes.
Finally, the community concludes that modern clothing is a disaster. At that time, many young people in Nabire City wore clothes, but when they returned to their villages they returned to wearing koteka.
However, over time, albeit slowly, the desire to wear modern clothing has begun to grow in the younger generation, especially children who have entered school and youth who work permanently in government agencies.
Currently, the traditional clothing of the Mee tribe is not well documented. It needs in-depth research and complete and good documentation, in various documentation methods, before this traditional dress is completely extinct.
The use of this traditional dress in official ceremonies to commemorate national holidays or in cultural festivals can also be a way to preserve these clothes. In addition, students and students are allowed to wear a koteka in following lessons in lecture halls and classrooms.
Are you interested in buying koteka as a typical papua souvenir. Come on, visit Indonesia and get interesting information from indonesiar.com as a reference for your tourist destination.
Source : portalsains