Tuesday, January 29, 2008


My Indonesian friend shared with me that there is this interesting traditional costume that is worn by the people of Irian Jaya, which is at the west of New Papua island. This traditional costume is called koteka. How does it look like if you wear it? Well, it looks like this.

They are usually made out of gourds or woven fibers and decorated with feathers, beads, cowry shells, and small metal ornaments. In 1971-1972 the government launched "Operasi Koteka" ("Operation Penis Gourd") which consisted primarily of trying to encourage the people to wear shorts and shirts because such clothes were considered more "modern." But the people did not have changes of clothing, did not have soap, and were unfamiliar with the care of such clothes so the unwashed clothing caused skin diseases. There were also reports of men wearing the shorts as hats and the women using the dresses as carrying bags.

Missionaries in the 1950s attempted to alter the local customs by forcing locals to wear shorts. Many of the Dani of the Baliem Valley felt exposed without their kotekas and could be seen wearing shorts with their kotekas sticking out of them. Eventually the missionary effort and the Indonesian government's campaign were abandoned. Nevertheless, western clothing is required in government buildings, and children are required to wear western clothing in school. Kotekas are still considered acceptable attire in church, however.

After he shared with me the story, I told him I also want one!!!!!! He said he will try to get for me if there is anybody who will go there. After many attempts, finally he told me the 'good news' recently that a female friend went there and got me one. It is already in Singapore!!! I can't wait to see how 'handsome' and long mine is!!!!!


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