Mom and son with Noken
Women carrying Noken are still a common sight in Wamena. Men and women use it for carrying plantation produce, catch from the sea or lake, firewood, babies or animals like piglet as well as for shopping and for storing things in the home. Noken may also be worn, often for traditional festivities, or given as peace offerings. The method of making Noken varies between communities, but in general, branches, stems or bark of certain small trees or shrubs are cut, heated over a fire and soaked in water. The remaining wood fibre is dried then spun to make a strong thread or string, which is sometimes colored using natural dyes. This string is knotted by hand to make net bags of various patterns and sizes. The process requires great manual skill, care and artistic sense, and takes several months to master.