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By Wasita Royal

For almost 15 years the Siwi Utme Artifacts Group, a group of brothers and fellow villagers from the Southern Highlands had become a familiar sight in Kokopo. Their vibrant woven baskets, carvings and beautiful shell and wooden jewelry draws curious gazes and eager shoppers.

They are a resilient and artistry of simple PNG villagers, who have chosen to preserve their heritage amidst the ever-changing world. The weaving techniques, passed down through generations, held stories of their ancestors, their connection to the land, and their cultural identity. Each carving, crafted from local wood, spoke of their deep respect for nature, while the shell jewelry, carefully strung and polished, mirrored their innate artistic flair.

Their journey wasn’t always easy. The competition in Kokopo is fierce, with larger shops and imported goods vying for attention. The struggle to find a consistent market for their handcrafted treasures, and the absence of adequate support for their traditional skills, is a constant worry.

But a glimmer of hope emerged in the form of the ENB Artisan Market Committee. “We are grateful to the committee for always purchasing our artifacts and showcasing them online,” shared Mr. Peter Yano, one of the longest-standing artifact sellers in the group.

 “They have helped us reach customers overseas, and this has made a huge difference.”

Their story is a call to action, a plea for the government to recognize and support the traditional skills of these talented villagers. Their artistry, their dedication, and their desire to share their cultural heritage deserve more than just a dusty street corner. They are appealing to the Government to invest in artisans, to provide them with opportunities to thrive, and to ensure that the legacy of PNG’s rich cultural heritage continues to flourish.

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