Koteka is a traditional Papuan outfit for male. Koteka often used by the people of Papua, especially in the highlands until now. Koteka is one of Indonesian culture, its unique shape may also be funny even some people thinks it’s porn, but that culture sometimes look strange when seen from our point of view. Each region has own culture, as well as the famous Papua with koteka. In addition to traditional clothing, koteka also used as original souvenir Papua. The meaning of koteka literally, this outfit comes from the Mee language. Meanwhile, the Dani tribe living in the Baliem Valley, Wamena, Jayawijaya regency calls this traditional men’s clothing with holim or horim. Each tribe in Papua has own term to call it, but this traditional outfit is more popular with koteka.
Koteka began to be formed since the planting period of pumpkin. After several months of growing, the gourd is tied up with stones to obtain a perpendicular shape. To get the curved shape of the pumpkin, before it is harvested, the hanging stone is removed. Koteka is made from a long, hard-skinned pumpkin skin or latin name Lagenaria Sicecaria. Mee tribe called it bobbe. Bobbe is usually planted in the garden or in the yard. The process of making, bobbe plucked (usually old) then inserted into the fine sand. On the fine sand is made a great fire. After the heat the bobbe skin will soften and its contents will melt, then the seeds along with the liquid will come out of the bobbe segment. After that, the bobbe is hung (dried) over the fireplace to dry. Once dry, it is equipped with special plait and ready to use as koteka. Regarding the size and shape, the koteka is not related to the status of the wearer. Sizes usually relate to user activity, work or ceremony. Many tribes in Papua can be identified by the way they use koteka. Short kiosks are used during work, and long ones with ornaments are used in traditional ceremonies. However, each tribe has different forms of koteka.
Koteka has other functions as a marker of social status and even a symbol of resistance. This is one of the traditional outfits worn by some Papuans, especially in the highlands. Currently, people who still wear koteka are found in Mee Pago (Mee and Moni) and La Pago (Lani, Dani, Yali, Katengban and Ngalum). These tribes mostly settled in the Central Highlands of Papua (from Paniai Lake, the great valley of Baliem, and the Jayawijaya mountains). The formation of pumpkins had a specific purpose in Baliem society. The shape of koteka signifies the social class of the wearer as people who have influence in society. The Koteka which is bent forward (kolo) is clothed in clothing by Ap Kain or the leader of the confederation (clan leader) .The middle class wearing koteka whose side is curved sideways (haliag), among them is Ap Menteg (warlords) and Ap Ubalik (traditional healers and leaders), while the perpendicular forms may be used by ordinary people.
The Dutch missionaries, who placed their first post in Papua in 1855, have known Koteka for centuries urged rural communities to abandon their cyclical habits. For those who want to go to school, they provide a full suit. But the people in the Central Highlands did not completely abandon their koteka. In the 1950s the missionaries finally focused on other issues and left the problem about Papuan dressing.