Magasa Dance, a Symbol of Harmony in West Papua

Magasa Dance, a Symbol of Harmony in West Papua

The Arfak Tribe that lives in Arfak Mountains, Manokwari, West Papua, has a very interesting dance with deep and beautiful meaning. The dance is called Magasa and it is performed during happy occasions as a symbol of gratitude to God for every good thing that happen in their life. Since the dance is energetic, Magasa is able to cheer up the atmosphere and make everybody feels happy and joyful.

The Arfak Tribe has danced to Magasa Dance for generations that it is not clear when it was created or who created the dance. Back in the days, Magasa was performed to celebrate victories, especially war victories. But as the time goes, the dance is performed in almost every celebration and also to welcome important guests that visit the homes of Arfak Tribe.

The Beautiful Performance of Magasa Dance

Magasa is a mass dance that performed by dozens of men and women. The dance movement itself is pretty simple, but entertaining to both watch and dance. The dancers will stand in a line while holding hands. Everybody, man or woman, old or young, adults or kids can join this dance. There is no age or gender boundary which represents unity of the tribe.

There is no complicated movement in this dance and this is why everybody can easily join. The dance movement consists of jumping together to a certain direction, walking straight, turning left and right, then walking in circles while still holding hands. As they move to and fro, the line will look like the movement of a snake. As a result, Magasa Dance is also often called as Tari Ular (Snake Dance).

Magasa Dance is not accompanied with any musical instruments. It is the dancer that will sing some verses in unison. Even though there is no music, the harmony, happiness and feeling of togetherness that the dancer exudes make them capable to move in sync without any difficulties.

The costume for this dance is simple but unique. The men will be topless and only wear loincloth. They also will wear head accessories made of the feathers of Cassowary or Birds of Paradise. Furthermore, they also will bring some traditional weapons that make them look dashing and masculine. Meanwhile, the ladies wear a sort of sarong that covers their body from the head to the calves. Just like the men, the women will also wear various accessories such as sago leaves and flowers on their head.

The Deep Meaning of Magasa Dance

Originally, Magasa Dance was performed to celebrate war victories. Winning a war is never easy and this is why they were really grateful and made big celebration. They danced while holding hands because it was their unity that had helped them taking the victories.

Even though war among tribes is no longer common, Magasa Dance is still performed until this day because of the deep meaning each movement of the dance contains. The energetic dance is a symbol of deep gratitude for the happiness and grace in their life. Furthermore this dance also symbolizes harmony among the people. The fact that everybody is allowed to join the dance also embodies the spirit of Arfak Tribe that is always respectful towards anyone despite of their differences.

Furthermore, Magasa Dance is also a symbol of unity and harmony among the people of Arfak Tribe. Even though they come from one tribe and live in the same area, differences in opinions are bound to happen. But it will not create any conflicts among the people because they appreciate and respect each other. Even if small conflicts do happen, Magasa Dance will remind them that they are brothers and sisters and no conflicts are big enough to come between them.

Besides harmony, respect and unity, Magasa Dance is still mainly a symbol of gratitude. The meaning also has extended. It is not only a gratitude for war victory, but also for every blessings in life.

Magasa Dance in the Modern Age

Magasa dance is one of the traditions in West Papua that is still widely practiced in the modern age. The Arfak tribe always gladly performs this dance everytime there is a happy occasion to celebrate. The young generations also don’t hesitate to learn this dance and perform it with their family and friends.

Due to the popularity of Magasa Dance, this dance is no longer exclusive to Arfak tribe. All people in Papua also often perform this dance in various occasions all over the islands. Furthermore, Magasa Dance is also often performed in numerous cultural fairs outside of West Papua to promote the beauty of West Papua culture.

Magasa Dance is also performed to welcome important guests that come to West Papua. Due to the happy nuance of the dance, of course it is very suitable for such a happy occasion. Magasa Dance has become a pride of West Papua and it is a good thing that the young generations are willing to keep this tradition alive.