Asmat Cultural Festival 2013

15 Oct 2013 - 19 Oct 2013

The cultural expressions of Papua's renowned Asmat Tribe will be the highlight of Indonesia's most eastern island as the Asmat Cultural Festival is scheduled to take place at the Yos Sudarso Field, Asmat District on 15th to 19th October 2013.

The main feature of the festival is obviously the signature wood carving art of the Asmat. The Asmat are known to have the capability of carving wood into fascinating artworks directly without drawing any sketches first. To the Asmat, their woodcarvings are inextricably linked with the spirit world, and therefore, are not principally considered as aesthetic objects. Much of the highly original art of the Asmat is symbolic of warfare, headhunting, and warrior-ancestor veneration. For centuries the Asmat, preoccupied with the necessity of appeasing ancestral spirits, produced a wealth of superbly designed shields, canoes, sculptured figures, and drums.

Aside from wood carving exhibitions and auctions, the festival will also present hundreds of artisans and performers who will showcase their exceptional skill in weavings, boating, and various dances and traditional musical performances. At the closing of the festival, the fine artworks of the Asmat will then be displayed for open auction.

Located at the southern part of Papua facing the Arafuru Sea, the district of Asmat was once part of the Merauke district. On February 2011, the district gained UNESCO recognition as a world heritage site. The Asmat region shot into world spotlight when in 1961 Michael Rockefeller, son of New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller disappeared here on his second expedition. On his first visit Michael had been deeply impressed by the Asmat sculpture, and planned to display these at an exhibition in the United States. On this unfortunate journey the boat capsized, pushed by the rushing incoming tide. Impatient, Michael swam to shore never to be seen or heard of again.

To reach Agats, you can take a flight from Jakarta or Bali to Timika and then continue by smaller plane to Ewer. From Ewer, you must take a speed boat to reach Agats. The Mozes Kilangin Airport in Timika is served by Garuda Indonesia from Jakarta and Denpasar, and Merpati Nusantara Airlines from the capital of Papua, Jayapura. Susi Air operates flights to local destinations across Papua including from Timika to Ewer. There are no hotels available in Asmat, the only possible way is either to stay at the local house which is called bujang (long house) house, or on Agats, where are simple accommodations whose rates change from time to time.

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