TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - An anthropology lecturer at the University of Cendrawasih in Jayapura, Hari Suroto expressed his concern over the diminishing users of the local traditional ‘koteka’ (traditional penis gourd) in the area of Wamena which is the capital of one of Papua’s Provinces, Jayawijaya District.
“Yes, [the koteka] is only worn by the older generations from Dani Tribe. That too could only be seen at rural villages distant from cities. The tribe’s younger generation either does not want to or seldom wears koteka,” said Hari Suroto on Saturday, July 13. Hari is also a researcher at the Papua Archeological Center.
In the current situation, koteka are often only worn during the Lembah Baliem Cultural Festival that is centered at the Walesi Village in Jayawijaya District.
“One way to preserve it is by wearing it every day or during a traditional event, or maybe it can be worn by a college student. As a lecturer I would allow that, wearing a koteka is similar to wearing a batik outfit [traditional Indonesian outfit],” he says.
In terms of ethnoarchaeology, wearing a koteka can be seen as a subject to a comparative study regarding prehistoric garments in the mountains of Papua.
“The use of koteka needs to be preserved. Which is why it needs to be recommended as UNESCO’s world heritage,” he said.
Last year, news reports emerged of a University of Cendrawasih student, Devio Basten Tekege (21), a sixth-semester student of engineering who wore a koteka to college on Monday, May 28, 2018. His somewhat courageous act was new to the campus environment and helped preserve the traditional outfit.