Bilum (looped string bag)
Across Papua New Guinea the humble string bag, or 'bilum' in Tok Pisin, is the most common accessory of everyday life. Created using an interconnected looping technique from a single length of hand-spun plant fibre, the 'bilum' is almost always made by women. They vary in size from large expandable open-looped carryalls to small tightly-looped objects used as amulets or ceremonial objects. Patterns are looped into the overall fabric construction with fibres coloured with dyes extracted from flowers, berries and other plant sources.
'Bilum' bags carried by women hold everything from firewood to babies. Men's 'bilum' keep ritual paraphernalia, heirlooms and items of everyday life, including pipes and tobacco.
Today, women across the New Guinea highlands are producing contemporary '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.
Place where the work was made
plant fibre string, natural dyes
23.5 cm height; 32.0 cm width across bottom (relaxed); handle 59.0 cm length
Gift of Peter Sack 2016
Not on display
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