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Nederlands Nieuw Guinea

Irian Jaya







The Dutch Era



Indonesian Region

Indonesian Territory

Republic of West Papua

Irian Jaya






Back to Indonesia




In 1527 the Portuguese Jorge de Menezes was the first European to set foot on New Guinean soil. He named the island Ilhas dos Papuas or the Island of the crisp-haired. In 1545 the island was renamed by the spanish captain Ynigo Ortiz de Retes, who noticed the resemblance of the coast with the African Westcoast, in Nueva Guinea.

The Dutch sailed to the island in 1606 on an expedition of Willem Janszoon who afterwards sailed also to Australia. In 1678 the Dutch flag was hoisted for the first time and later the island was for a lomg time a posession of the V.O.C..

When in the 19th century the British installed themselves in the eastern part of New Guinea the Dutch decided to take the western part in 1829. The border between the two parts was fixed in 1875 at 141° E.L..

In 1884 the northern half of the eastern part became a German possession and the southern half a British possession. In 1906 British New Guinea was transferred to Australia and renamed Papua Territory. In WW I Australia occupied the northern (German) Kaiser Wilhelmsland. From that time this part was called New Guinea. In 1945 the Australian part was united with the former German territory and called Papua and New Guinea Territory. In 1975 this Territory became independent Papua-New-Guinea


In the Ronde Tafel Conferentie (Round Table Conference) of 1949 the Dutch did not transfer its sovereignty over New Guinea to Indonesia, appealing to the right of self-determination of the Papua’s and promised their independence. The Dutch Government for this purpose trained an administrative body and installed a New Guinea Council in April 1961. This council consisted for the main part  (23 of the 28 members) of Papua’s and hoisted the “Morning Star” (the national flag) together with the flag of the Netherlands on 1 December 1961 in Hollandia. That date was intended to be the first step on the way to independence.

In the Treaty of New York, concluded under U.S. pressure between Indonesia and the Netherlands on 15 August 1962, it was agreed that there would be a U.N. Interim Government from 1 October 1962 until the transfer of New Guinea to Indonesia on 1 May 1963. The transfer had to be followed by a referendum of the Papua’s. Indeed, this referendum was held under the supervision of the U.N. but was restricted to 1025 selected notables (of the 80,000 inhabitants), who, isolated and put under severe pressure, unanimously voted for annexation by Indonesia.

Dutch New Guinea was renamed West Papua. In Indonesian Bahasa it was called Irian Barat (irian = arab for ‘naked’; barat = ‘west’. On 3 March 1973 it was renamed again into “Irian Jaya”(Victorious Irian). This was followed by another renaming when President Abdurrahman Wahid, during a short visit to Jayapura on 31 December 1999 ordained that the province henceforth was called “Papua”.

On 22/23 October 2001 Papua received autonomy within Indonesia from the Indonesian Parliament. The revenues of the province would be divided on a 70-30% ratio for the minerals and on a 80-20% ratio for the other revenues between the Papua’s and Indonesia. According to the agreement the province could adopt its own flag and hymn. This provision was not carried out. On the contrary, President  Megawati proposed in 2003 to divide the province in three parts and that its name would be changed into Irian again. After strong resistance of the population only the western part with the name of Irian Jaya Barat and its capital Manokwari was separated from Papua Province. In 2005 it was proposed to split up the province into five parts.








New Guinea is a very interesting region for ethnoheraldry because until a relatively short time past wars were fought in an archaïc way. The symbolical dressing up of warring on New Guinea could probably give us an idea of the way how wars were fought in prehistoric times and as such sould be a journey in the past. The shields used by the local population for war and for all kinds of rituals and dancing feasts are characteristic for the different regions. Their manufacturing is surrounded by extensive rituals to augment the effectivity of the shield. Many of these shields are in the collections of  the colonizers often by way of anthropologists who choose the New Guinea peoples as their subject of research and have collected a treasure of information of their manners and customs. Some hundreds of shields turned up in the collections of the Museum voor Volkenkunde in Leiden and in the Koninklijk Instituut voor de Tropen in Amsterdam. From Kaiser Wilhelmsland there will be a collection in the Museum für Volkenkunde in Berlin. Some are depicted by Alain-Michel Boyer after his impressive introduction to ethnoheraldry in his book “Shields”. [1]

The shield here depicted is from the Asmat of South-West New Guinea. It shows red lines on a white background characteristic for the Asmat-shields. On other shield of this people the pattern is more refined and is more a kind of network spread over the shield.

When these shields are often quite large, even up to a man’s length, the shields of other peoples are smaller. In the west they are of a shape common on the islands west of New Guinea.


The Dutch Era


Following a long tradition the annexation of the territory was effectuated in the 19th century by erecting a pole with an armoured table:  [2]

“In 1848 the Government of the Netherlands Indies declared that West New Guinea was a part of the Netherlands Indies. Only fifty years later administrative- and police posts were established. Until that time “the Dutch authority on New Guinea was represented by tables erected on great distances from each other on which the Dutch achievement appeared” [3]

Such a table is preserved and exhibited in the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam.


Frontier Post

This sign was suspended from a palmtree in a village on the northern coast of Dutch New Guinea.

(Painted iron, 19th century. Coll. Tropenmuseum Amsterdam)


Like elsewhere in the Dutch colonies, in Dutch New Guinea the Dutch Achievement in its different versions was valid.


In 1942 New Guinea was occupied by Japan and governed by the Japanese Navy. It was liberated in the New Guinea Campaign which lasted until the capitulation of Japan in 1945.


Stamp of the Japanese Navy showing its anchor-emblem


Only at the end of Dutch presence on New Guinea heraldic emblems referring to the region only, were introduced. The first of such emblems were the coats of arms of military units stationed on New Guinea.


After WWII Dutch rule was restored  with the help of the Territorial Command New Guinea stationed in East-Indonesia which comprised Celebes, the Moluccas and  the Smaller Sunda Islands. On 15 May 1947 the Territorial and Army Command New Guinea was separated from this command.

The arms of the Territorial and Army Command were:

Arms: Or, a palmtree on a grassy ground proper, and a bordure Gules.


Between 1949-1962 the flag of the Governors of Dutch New Guinea was the one of the former Governor General of the Netherlands East Indies being red-white and blue, and three white balls in the first:


Governor’s Flag


After the delegation of sovereignty in 1949, Dutch military units were stationed in the remains of the Dutch Colonial Empire. These had a coat of arms: Per pale Sable and Orange, a spear and a sword in saltire Argent and charged with the outlines of an orb Gules.

This coat of arms was adopted by Army Command no. 208 of 1950 and abolished by army command 60020 of 1960.


Troepen op Nieuw Guinea,



Papoea Vrijwiligerskorps, 1959.

Coats of arms of  Dutch New-Guinea armed forces.


One year before, in 1959, a Papua Volunteer Corps was established. For this Corps the military artist Frans Smits designed a cap badge consisting of a Casuar (Casuarius papuanus - Casuariiformes) within an oval strap with the motto PERSEVERO (I Persevere) between two branches of laurel and two knives in saltire below. On the banner of the Corps was Quartely in saltire Gules an Sable, the emblem and the legend “PAPOEA VRIJWILLIGERSKORPS 1961”. [4]


To resist increasing Indonesian menace and infiltrations of the Indonesian Army the Troepen op Nieuw Guinea were replaced by the Dutch New Guinea Army (Landmacht in Nederlands-Nieuw-Guinea) in 1960.

By Army Command no. 95 a coat of arms for the Dutch New Guinea Army was adopted. It showed: Azure, the map of New Guinea Vert, over all the constellation of the Southern Cross consisting of five six-pointed stars Argent; the base barry Gules, Argent and Azure, being the national flag of the Netherlands.

When the detachment was abolished in 1961 the arms were declared expired by Ministerial Decision of 13 September 1961. [5]

In 1960 the Dutch armed forces stationed in Dutch New Guinea found the Indonesian Kompassus as their adversary in the socalled Trikora Operation.


Landmacht Nederlands Nieuw Guinea 1960-1962


Kopassus Cap Badge


Kopassus, abbreviation for Komando Pasukan Khusus (Army Special Force Command) is an Indonesian Army Special Forces group that conducts special operations missions for the Indonesian government, such as direct action, unconventional warfare, sabotage, counter-terrorism and intelligence gathering. Kopassus was founded on April 16, 1952.


On the Road to Independence



Anticipating the independence of the region a flag, a coat of arms and a hymn were adopted in 1961. [6]

The “Morgenster” (Morning Star) as the flag of New Guinea is called, is barry of 13 pieces blue and white and has a red mast-end charged with a white five-pointed star. It was adopted by decree of the Governor of Dutch New-Guinea of 18 November 1961 No. 362 and published in the Gouvernementsblad van Nieuw-Guinea 1961 N° 68 dd. 20. XI. 1961.


The decree reads:



Artikel 1.


1.       De landsvlag van Nederlands-Nieuw-Guinea is een rechthoek bestaande uit een verticale rode baan  aan de zijde van de vlaggestok, en zeven horizontale blauwe banen gescheiden door zes witte banen. In het midden van de rode baan bevindt zich een witte vijfpuntige ster waarvan één punt vertikaal omhoog wijst. De vijf uiteinden van de ster vormen elk een hoek van 36°.


2.       De hoogte en de lengte van de vlag staan to elkaar in de verhouding 2:3.

          De breedte van de rode baan bedraagt twee vijfden van de hoogte van de vlag.

          De blauwe en witte banen zijn alle even hoog. De middellijn van de omschreven cirkel

van de ster is zeven achtsten van de breedte van de rode baan.


3.       De gouverneur bepaalt de aard van de kleuren van de vlag.



Drawing of the achievement of West Papua by Justinus Ofide


The first achievement of New Guinea was apparently also adopted in 1961. It was:


Arms: Paly of thirteen pieces Azure and Argent, a chief Gules charged with a five-pointed star Argent.

Supporters: Two Small Birds of Paradise (Paradisea minor - Paradisaeidae) proper.

Motto: SETIA DJUDJUR MESRA (Loyal, Honest, Affectionate) on black lettering on a  scroll Azure.

Garland: Two orchids proper.


Birds of Paradise

The Hague, 1965


This achievement was shown in an anti-indonesian demonstration in The Hague, 1965. It is not known who the designer of the achievement was. No document with an official description could be found. [7]

Recently the achievement can be found on several websites. 


U.N. Temporary Executive Authority

1962.10.01 - 1963.05.01


U.N. Emblem




UNTEA New Guinea Mission Medal

Indonesian Territory

1963.05.01 - present


After the transfer of West Papua by the U.N. Temporary Executive Authority on 1 May 1963 all national symbols of West Papua were forbidden.

When Indonesia had taken over, the region came under direct presidential rule, the president of Indonesia taking the place of the Queen of the Netherlands. In 1963 coins were issued for use in the region, showing the bust of Sukarno on the obverse and his presidential arms, being the arms of Indonesia between an ear of rice and a branch of cotton, on the reverse


Coin for use in Irian Barat, 1963


Republic of West Papua


A newer achievement of West Papua was probably adopted when in 1971 it was tried in vain to establish a Republic of West Papua.


This second Republican achievement is:

Arms: Paly of thirteen pieces Azure and Argent, a chief Gules charged with a five-pointed star Argent.

Supporter: A Western Crowned Pigeon (Goura cristata – Columbæ [8]) in its dexter claw a drum and in its sinister claw a bundle of arrows.

Motto: ONE PEOPLE ONE SOUL  on an arch in chief

Title: WEST-PAPUA on a ribbon in base



The achievement is inspired by the frontispiece of a pamphlet entitled „De Papoea’s roepen Nederland” (the Papua’s call for the Netherlands) published in 1951. This shows a shield tierced per bend sinister, red white and blue, charged with the outlines of the map of Dutch New Guinea on the breast of a crowned pigeon.

“De Kroonduif” (the Crowned Pigeon) was also an airline company on Dutch New Guinea. Its emblem showed a blue crowned pigeon on a white dic charged with two red concentric rings.


The West Papua Courier writes about the Morning star and the achievement:    


The colours of the flag, according to Nicolaas Jouwe in his explanation (1986), are borrowed from the Dutch National flag as an expression of gratitude to the Netherlands for its protection of the people of Papua in difficult times. The red colour symbolizes the courage and pride shown by the people of Papua in difficult times to defend the country against strange domination. The blue colour symbolizes fidelity to the fatherland, to principles and the highest ideals of the country. The white colour symbolizes peace, keeping the peace with the neighbours and the world. The six white breadths symbolize the six districts of the country. The seven blue breadths symbolize the different peoples of West-Papua, making together the people of Papua. Also seven is a sacred number in the Bible (amongst others Revelations 15:7 and 16:1 and Matthew 18:22). The star in the red breadth is the Morning star, the star of hope, the hope for a good day, a good future. The design for the national arms shows a standing crowned pigeon (mambroek) with wings expanded. On the breast appears a shield charged with the Papua national flag and it has a tifa (drum) in his right and seven arrows in his left claw. In the claws there is also a ribbon with the motto “Banjak dalam satu”: “Eenheid in verscheidenheid”, “One people, one soul”.”


Irian Jaya


The emblem of Irian Jaya Province is:


Arms: Or, three piles on a socle Argent, surrounded by a garland of rice and cotton tied with a ribbon Gules and Argent; and a chief Azure, three mountains Vert, their tops Argent below the name of the province IRIAN JAYA Or.


The arms were probably adopted when Irian Barat / West Papua was renamed Irian Jaya on 3 March 1973. [9]


The shield has five corners or points, symbolizing the Pancasila, the five principles of the Indonesian state.

The main charge is the monument to commemorate the Trikora Campaign of 1960, the three black-and-white piles symbolizing the fight in the mountains and the six and nine stones the year 1969. They also symbolize the socalled Perpera or referendum of 1969 and the rapid development of the region. The monument is surrounded by a garland of rice and cotton, tied with a red and white ribbon, symbolizing, like in many other Indoensian provincial arms the date of the establishment of the Republic of Indoensia on 17 August 1945 (17.08.’45)


The three  mountains in the chief depict the Pegunungan Maoke (former Centraal Gebergte) with the Pik Jaya (5030 m.), the Gunung Daam (4922 m.) and the Pik Mandala (4700 m.) and are also for the province as a whole.

Gold symbolizes the comprehension of earth and nature; blue symbolizes the waters within and around Irian Jaya; green symbolizes the fertilty of the country; yellow the faith that the struggle has ended; black the stability of the country in the future. [10]


After the renaming of Irian Jaya in “Papua” in 2000 the name on the shield was changed accordingly  and the motto „KARYA SWABAYA” (Creation by Own Force) on a golden ribbon with black edges was added.


ð See illustration in the head of this essay.


For the eastern part of the island: Papua New Guinea






The Tri Komando Rakyat  (Third Peoples’ Army, TRIKORA) was founded in Yogyakarta by president Sukarno on 9 December 1961 for operations against the Dutch in New Guinea. In 1962 the command was renamed Komando Daerah Militer (Kodam) XVII Irian Barat and after the transfer of New Guinea to the Republic in 1963  into Kodam XVII Cenderawasih. In 1985 Kodam XVII Cenderawasih was united with Kodam XV Pattimura to make Kodam VIII Trikora but in 1999 Kodam XVII Trikora was split off from this command. In 2007 it was renamed Kodam XVII Cenderawasih. 

It oversees West-Papua and Papua provinces.


Arms of Kodam VIII Trikora

Arms of Kodam XVII Cenderawasih

at the entrance of the HQ.


Banner of Kodam XVII Cenderawasih

Green velvet, 60 Í 90 cm. Fringes 7 cm.


The banner shows the paradise bird of the arms, surrounded by a garland of rice and cotton and crested of a five-pointed star. The motto KSATRIA PELINDUNG RAKYAT means: The Warrior is the Protector of the People.[11]





Papua Barat






West Papua was created from the western portion of Papua province in February 2003, initially under the name of Irian Jaya Barat; it was renamed Papua Barat (West Papua) on 7 February 2007.


The emblem is:

Arms: Azure, per fess, the chief per pale: 1. a derrick; 2. a tree and a fish proper; 3. two leaves Vert. In chief a five-pointes star Argent. Over all a disc Vert charged with the bust of a casuar proper.

Motto:  CINTAKUNEGERIKU (My Love My Country).

Title: IRIAN JAYA BARAT in black lettering on a yellow cartouche above the shield.


When the province was renamed Papua Barat, the name in the cartouche was changed accordingly.



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© H.d.V. 2006.06.28 Updated 2008-10-20; 2011-02-16; 2011-10-20; 2011-12-07




[1]  Shields. Africa, Southeast Asia and Oceania. From the Collections of the Barbier-Mueller Museum. Munich, 2000. Pp. 8-31. 

[2]  The Portuguese usually erected a so-called padrão, the royal coat of arms of Porugal on a pole. See for example Indonesia and  Angola.

[3]  In this way  Bert Ernste, who continues...... writes my great-great grandfather O.M. de Munnick in his Memoirs with the thrilling title “'Mijn ambtelijk verleden (1858-1894)” (My  past as a civil servant (1858-1894)). “Sovereignty of a territory many times larger than the Netherlands by tables on the beach!”

[4]  Illustration from: Jacques Bartels en Bas Kist: Véél Veren. (Zaltbommel 1999) p. 85: Embleem Papoea Vrijwilligerskorps.

[5]   Coenders, C.P., C. v. Ekeris & B.C. Cats: De Mouwemblemen van het Nederlandse Leger. 1978. pp. 23, 35.

[6]  Bepalingen over vlag en volkslied in het Gouvernementsblad van Nederlands-Nieuw-Guinea, 1961 Nos 68, 69 en 70..

[7]  Probably it is in the  het Gouvernementsblad van Nederlands-Nieuw-Guinea, 1961, No 71.

[8]   It inhabits marshy and partly flooded forest, usually undisturbed alluvial forest, but also hill forest, dense secondary growth and mangroves, up to at least 350m. in the NW part of New Guinea. Photo Birdquest.

[9]  After a photography H.d.V. Djakarta, sept 1980. The lower field of uncertain colour. On a series of stamps the lower field is gold. In the National Archives in Jakarta no decree has been found about these arms. No arms are known with the name of Irian Barat.

[10] 1. Wadah Lambang Daerah berbentuk PERISAI BERPAJU LIMA adalah menggambarkan kesiap - siagaan dan ketahanan. Paju lima menunjukkan jumlah sila dalam pancasila. Warna dasar kuning emas pada bagian bawah Perisai dan pita tersebut melambangkan keagungan yang mengandung pengertian sebagai gambaran cita usaha pengalian hasil - hasil kekayaan bumi dan alamnya. Warna dasar biru tua pada bagian atas Perisai tersebut, melukiskan kekayaan lautan / perairan Papua. Jalur kuning melingkari tepian Perisai tersebut menggambarkan keyakinan tercapainya segala usaha dan perjuangan. Jalur hitam yang melingkari pita dan warna tulisan hitam menggambarkan kemantapan dan kebulatan tekad untuk berkarya swadaya ..

2. Tiga buah TUGU yang masing-masing berwarna abu-abu, sebelah kanan dan berwarna putih sebelah kiri di atas TUMPUKAN BATU persegi panjang, bersusun 2 (dua) masing - masing berderet 6 (enam) dan 9 (sembilan) yang berwarna putih bergaris - garis batas hitam: Perjuangan TRIKORA dan kemenangan PEPERA Tahun 1969. Tumpukan batu tersebut juga melambangkan Dinamika Pembangunan di Daerah ini. Warna Abu - abu Putih dan bergaris - garis Hitam melambangkan ketegangan dan kesucian. Setangkai BUAH PADI yang berisi 17 (tujuh belas) butir padi berwarna kuning bertangkai kuning pula yang terdapat di sebelah kanan dan setangkai BUAH KAPAS yang terdiri dari 8 (delapan) buah berwarna putih bertangkai Hijau Tua yang terdapat disebelah kiri daripada tiga buah Tugu tersebut yang diikat dengan sehelai PITA berwarna merah berlekuk 4 (empat) dan berjurai 5 (lima) adalah melukiskan kesatuan dan persatuan Bangsa yang dijiwai oleh semangat Proklamasi 17 Agustus 1945 untuk mewujudkan masyarakat adil dan makmur. Tiga buah GUNUNG berjajar yang sama tingginya berwarna hijau tua dan berpuncak putih salju adalah menggambarkan ciri khas Daerah Irian.  Warna Hijau Tua ketiga buah gunung dan tangkai dari buah kapas itu, melambangkan kesuburan tanah / kekayaan alam daratan Irian. Sedangkan tulisan "Papua"  dalam huruf cetak yang berwarna kuning adalah menggambarkan keluhuran / keagungan cita. (http:/www/papua.go).

[11] From:  http://kodam17-cenderawasih.blogspot.com/2008/09/pataka-kodam-xviicenderawasih.html


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