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Title

Bilum (looped string bag)

circa 1960s


Artists

Unknown Artist


About

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.


Details


Place where the work was made

Papua New Guinea


Date

circa 1960s


Media category

Textile


Materials used

plant fibre string, natural dyes


Dimensions

23.5 cm height; 32.0 cm width across bottom (relaxed); handle 59.0 cm length


Credit

Gift of Peter Sack 2016


Location

Not on display


Accession number

217.2016



Place

Where the work was made
Papua New Guinea