Saturday, March 20, 2010

Marice Fonataba - Master of Traditional Cloth Weaving

Marice Fonataba’s house is not far from Paul’s house. Betel nut palm trees decorate the front yard of her house. Mrs. Fonataba is one of the few Papuan women who can make unique souvenirs. She is a hard working Papuan woman who choose a very rare profession, a woven cloth maker. As you can see at the cover of this brochure, she uses simple tools to make beautiful cotton cloth from small size shawls to a large sheet cloth for Papuan wedding dress. For finishing two sheets of shawl, she needs one week. Beautiful ornamented woven cloth has been the favorite souvenirs which many tourists like to try and buy. European tourists prefer to buy the shawls because they can use them during winter time. Mrs. Fonataba also makes bags from plaited pandanus leaves.  When you go to her house that is located at Komplex Missi of Manokwari city, you might be able to see how she weaves cloth or you could ask her to demonstrate how she makes sireo, a traditional skirt made of tiny beads that are mostly used in wedding ceremony by Serui tribes in the Geelvink (Cendrawasih) bay of Papua island.

Mrs. Marice Fonataba knows that she should teach her skills to young Papuan generation in order to preserve one of these important cultural identity. So far she has taught cloth weaving techniques to women in Biak and Serui islands. She also gives short course to Papuan girls on how to make the sireo skirt.
From her skillful hands, numerous handicrafts ornamented with Papuan traditional motifs have been created. This artist can be considered as a senior and respected Papuan woman who inspires other young Papuan generations to work hard for their living and at the same time preserve their cultural identity.

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