Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Papua’s Noken, Unique Orchid Fiber Bag, listed in UNESCO World Heritage

Unesco has placed noken, a traditional multifunctional woven bag from Papua, on its “List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding.”

The listing was made official during a Unesco session in Paris on Tuesday, the UN body said in a statement published on its website.

Noken is a knotted net or woven bag handmade from wood fiber or leaves, by people in the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua.

Men and women use it for carrying produce, fish, firewood, babies or small animals, as well as for shopping and storing things in the home. Noken may also be worn, often for traditional festivities, or given as peace offerings.

“The number of people making and using noken is diminishing, however,” Unesco said.

“Factors threatening its survival include lack of awareness, weakening of traditional transmission, decreasing numbers of craftspeople, competition from factory-made bags, problems in easily and quickly obtaining traditional raw materials, and shifts in the cultural values of noken,” it added.

The inclusion of noken on the list, Unesco says, is expected to help mobilize international cooperation and assistance for stakeholders to undertake appropriate safeguarding measures.

Indonesian Deputy Education and Culture Minister Wiendu Nuryanti, who attended the Paris session, said Indonesia first submitted the proposal to put noken on Unesco’s World Heritage list four years ago, and it was revised several times since then.

“Today, at 10:30 a.m. Paris time, noken was acknowledged by Unesco. The Indonesian delegation [attending the session], including from Papua, and all of us Indonesians must thank God and be proud of Papua for this,” Wiendu wrote of the achievement in a text message sent to Indonesian news portal antaranews.com.

“We’ll work together with various parties to increase the selling value of Papua’s noken. For example, we will join hands with Indonesian designers to make noken a material or accessory for their fashion works,” she added. (Jakarta Globe)

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