With a population of just 18,000 living along the Southern coast of Papua, the Kamoro people are one of the few Papuan tribes who still practice their little known, meticulous tradition of wood carving.
Unlike their neighbors the Asmat tribe, Kamoro art is perhaps lesser-known, yet actually rich with a peaceful style and form.
As quoted by the Foundation for Kamoro Carvers, “the intricacies in their carvings show a much deeper relationship with the cosmos, their current world and the past”.
Today, Kamoro’s artistry is increasingly valued with the revival of their wooden carvings.
Although no ancient Kamoro art exists today for carvers to look at or study, a deluge of newer forms have been created by its people in the present: Eastern and Western styles of shields, forms of ancestral figures, sago bowls, paddles with an open shield on the other end, and many others. Often, carvers are known to cut a hidden joke into their wooden carvings, reflecting the Kamoro’s sense of humor.
Even though a Kamoro museum has not been established, an annual exhibition and art sale organized by the Foundation for Kamoro Carvers is held in Jakarta to display this Papuan tribe’s unusual talent, as well as to provide carvers and female plaiters with financial support.
This year, the sale will be held on Nov. 19-20 at the American Club in South Jakarta.
Admission is free. The event will also welcome a group of seven carvers who will sing, dance, drum and carve. The carved pieces start at Rp 250,000 (US$19).