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Title

Bilum (looped string bag)

circa 1960s

Artists

Unknown Artist

No image
  • Details

    Place where the work was made
    East Sepik Province Papua New Guinea
    Cultural origin
    probably Iatmul people
    Date
    circa 1960s
    Media category
    Textile
    Materials used
    plant fibre string, natural dyes
    Dimensions
    20.0 cm height; 32.0 cm length across bottom (relaxed); handle 54.0 cm length
    Credit
    Gift of Peter Sack 2016
    Location
    Not on display
    Accession number
    218.2016
    Copyright
    © under the endorsement of the Pacific Islands Museums Association's (PIMA) Code of Ethics
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  • 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, such as this example from the Sepik River region, 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 PNG 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 women to earn a living for their families.

  • Places

    Where the work was made

    East Sepik Province