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Title

Bilum (looped string bag)

mid 20th century
collected 1969


Artists

Unknown Artist


About

Across Papua New Guinea the humble string bag, or 'bilum', is the most common accessory of everyday life. 'Bilum' are almost always made by women, created using a looping technique with a single length of hand-spun plant fibre. They vary in size from large expandable open-looped carryalls to small tightly looped objects used as amulets or ceremonial objects. Patterns are incorporated into the construction using coloured fibres dyed with extracts from flowers, berries and other plants.

'Bilum' bags carried by women hold everything from firewood to babies. Men's 'bilum' are used to store ritual paraphernalia, heirlooms and everyday items, including pipes and tobacco.

Today, women produce 'bilum' with modern designs using colourful acrylic and wool yarns. The looping technique is also used to fashion spectacular clothing, known as 'bilumwear'. These new creations have established a sustainable means for highlands women to earn a living for their families.

[Exhibition text for 'Plumes and pearlshells: art of the New Guinea highlands', AGNSW, 2014]


Details


Other Title

Billum bag


Cultural origin

Baruya people


Dates

mid 20th century
collected 1969


Media category

Textile


Materials used

looped plant-fibre string, pale red and brown plant dye


Dimensions

44.5 x 48.0 cm looped bag, expandable :

0 - Whole; 61 cm; base

0 - Whole; 33 cm; neck


Credit

Gift of Stan Moriarty 1977


Location

Not on display


Accession number

538.1979



Place

Where the work was made
Wonenara

Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history


Referenced in 1 publication

Bibliography


Natalie Wilson (Editor), Plumes and pearlshells: art of the New Guinea highlands, Sydney, 2014, 134 (colour illus.), 163. cat.no. 77