Beautiful Carvings of The Asmat Tribe of Papua

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Asmat tribe is a large tribe that is quite well-known in the Land of Papua. Its existence as a tribe that inhabits the southern coast of Papua is very calculated in the history of the spread of Papuan society. Asmat is so famous because it has an extraordinary value of life, besides that the culture of this tribe is very interesting and unique. One that stands out when talking about this tribe is the result of their carvings which are already well known to foreign countries.

Like life in general, the Asmat also need media to express the things they experience in life. Usually they are told by heroic, mystical or customary rules in the form of certain media. This they do with various objectives, among others as a means of maintaining the continuity of tradition, a means of learning for the next generation, and spiritual reverence for ancestral spirits. For this reason, carvings have become inseparable from the lives of the Asmat and have important significance in various efforts to actualize their lives. However, in modern times, many of them carve not only to actualize life, but also for commodity reasons.

Asmat Carving has its own characteristics when compared to various engravings from other regions. Neat workmanship and intricate carving details are the reasons why the Asmat carvings are famous throughout the world. Motives related to nature, living things and activities of daily life are found in the Asmat engraving. The most common forms are bats, birds of paradise, and fish. While the usual form of activity they make is humans who are fighting, hunting, or fishing, not infrequently they also make reflections on the life activities of the Asmat ancestors. To be sure, this motif or form will not be separated from the lives of the Asmat themselves.

One of the objects of Asmat carvings that are quite popular in the world are the unique panels that are often used as wall hangings. These panels usually have animal carvings or tribal lines typical of the Asmat. This object has become so famous for its uniqueness and ease of being carried over long distances, considering that tourists usually buy panels to be used as souvenirs. The selling price of these panels is not too expensive, for the smallest sized panels generally sold for 200,000-300,000 rupiah. This price is quite reasonable because these panels also have a high level of difficulty in making it.

Besides panels, the types of carvings that are so famous are the Bis Sculpture (ancestral) and Totem. The making of these two objects is closely related to the spiritual life of the Asmat people. For totems, they are usually made from inverted tree trunks. The roots are placed on top because they will use their long roots as a symbol of fertility and must be placed at the top of the totem. Both of these objects are very sacred and are usually placed in places that are also sacred like Jew (Rumah Bujang) or the entrance to the Asmat village.

Although carving is a common art of the Asmat people, not all Asmat people can be carvers. Carving is a skill passed down between generations and is generally only done by men. They usually carve while the women work in the fields. Because carving is a legacy, families who do not have blood engravers usually do not have this ability either. However, for modern Asmat people this ability can be specifically studied. Many Asmat men who have specifically learned how to carve, moreover becoming an engraver can now be made a living.

However, the Asmat Carving is a pride for the Indonesian people. Through this engraving, Indonesia, especially Papua will be increasingly known throughout the world. Therefore, it is the duty of Indonesian citizens to preserve this art so that it can be passed on to the next generation.

More info about Asmat Tribe in Wikipedia

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