Thursday, 6 September 2018

Bilums are PNG souvenirs sold overseas

Such a striking image of our friend's daughter as she stares into the lense whilst wearing a Bilum from the Eastern Highlands, Papua New Guinea.

We love seeing how the world interacts with Bilum, as people take the time to connect with it, feel its stories and understand that Bilum is so much more than a bag.

Shared with us by our friend Francoise Holtzmacher.

PNG bilums are sold internationally as a souvenir, on this blog we bring to you some of the issues our local handcraft makers face, including those mothers who make bilums.

Image courtesy of Among Equals.

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Locally made baby baskets for sale

Selling this baby baskets and mosquito nets for babies. 
K100 only. 

If interested call (+675) 73486899 to place your order. 

Monday, 29 May 2017

East Sepik regional candidate Allan Bird and the bilum


ALLAN Bird (Candidate contesting the 2017 National General Elections for East Sepik Regional Seat) is seen here with three colourful bilums (photo below) suspended from his shoulders and surrounded by children from a Wosera village. Gifted to him by mothers and sisters, the bilums provide an apt metaphor for imagining trust and confidence for the delivery of expected outcomes balanced on the shoulders of agility and fortitude.

 When much is given much is expected so to speak! The bilums are both containers and the contained: potential, promise; trust and confidence and relations are all looped and entangled in the bilums.

The absorptive capacity allows them to stretch and accommodate. What is within awaits a future moment of delivery: a child is born; food is taken out and a meal is shared; betelnut and mustard comes out in moments of social encounters etc. What is contained within awaits a future moment to come out.

The future is the cause and motivation but when the bilum comes into vision, it comes with expectations. When suspended on the head or shoulders the bilum also travels with a body enabling the body to carry other things much like a child in the womb of a pregnant mum. A person carrying a bilum is made to be relationally extended; several identities at once; the person and relations; a leader and community. 

As shown in this photograph, decorating Alan Bird with bilums not only means he is the son of our bilums; the gesture amounts to a measure of measure, proportion, grace and fortitude. Standing tall and carrying the burdens and aspirations, sentiments and affections of the now stylised 'Bilas bilum blong Wosera'.

Source: Facebook.

Bilum maker wants change with Papua New Guinea elections


She had a bright smile and was very welcoming, seeing us walk through the craft market.

Sila Silbol is a Papua New Guinean mother of five, who sells bilums (traditional string bags), accessories, “laplaps”(wrap-around cloths) and other craft at a local craft market in Port Moresby.

Originally from Simbu, Sila now lives in the Moresby North-West area and survives on the income she makes from selling crafts.

Sila Silbol and other sellers can now feel the pinch of tough economic times, saying she makes less now than what she usually used to make.

And she wants something better for herself and her family.

When she was asked about services in her area, of which Labi Amaiu of the People’s Progress Party is the member of, she explains that without money, services cannot be provided.

This is what she feels, is needed.

“Moni stap na sevis bai kam [tasol] nogat moni ya. Man holim moni, sevis i kam ol bai mek yus lo displa sevis.”

She says she sees little or no beneficial impact of services in her area.

Silbol, who wants to see the change in government, is happy about women contesting the elections this year, and encourages women in Parliament.

She supports female candidates because they understand the needs of everyone, and have the “people” skills.

She believes the 2017 general election will take its course with the “right people” elected into Parliament and has confidence in her candidates for the Moresby North East and National Capital District (NCD) Regional seats.

The two-week Papua New Guinea general election is between June 24 and July 8.

Sila Silbol ..........who sells bilums (traditional string bags), accessories, “laplaps”(wrap-around cloths) and other craft at a local craft market in Port Moresby.
Source: Asia Pacific Report.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Ecotourism Melanesia is seeking PNG students who can speak Chinese for casual employment

Ecotourism Melanesia is one of PNG's most experienced inbound tour operators and destination management companies. It has been promoting and handling tourism in PNG and Solomon Islands for the past 25 years, specialising in village based cultural tourism.

The company staff with a strong local team have an unbeatable knowledge of PNG geography and travel logistics that we have put to good use in planning a range of escorted soft adventure tours and independent holiday packages that bring intrepid visitors face to face with the culturally diverse tribes and unique natural history of Papua New Guinea. And for clients requiring customised or special arrangements we design quality, workable itineraries with keen attention to detail. 

Its friendly guides offer professional service, local knowledge and cultural insight. And rest assured we practise responsible tourism: our tours put cash directly into village people's pockets.

It also handles arrangements for commercial and artistic photographers, film crews, research and medical teams, cruise ships, youth challenge expeditions, volunteer and missionary projects, VIP tourists, business reps, government / diplomatic delegations, air tours and charters, private yachts, round-the-world odyssey groups and "the weird stuff" like helping to source rare collector's items, research a historical site or find long-lost PNG relatives.

The Casual Opportunity

The tour company, Ecotourism Melanesia is now interested in hearing from young Papua New Guineans who speak Chinese for casual employment during their semester breaks/holidays as translators for Chinese tourists visiting PNG.

Ecotourism needs casual Chinese speaking Papua New Guineans to act as translators for its tour guides when taking Chinese tourists around – sometimes only one tourist + our tour guide + the translator, sometimes a group of 6 or 8 Chinese.

Most of the tours are day trips around Port Moresby but sometimes Ecotourism Melanesia needs translators to escort the groups on one week trips to Madang, Goroka, Mt Hagen.
The rate of pay is K300 per day.

If you are interested, please inquire via email at: 

Thursday, 27 April 2017

PNG students studying in China showcase bilum as the country's national identity and cultural icon in Zhejiang Province, China


PAPUA New Guinea students studying in Zhejiang Province, Xiasha District of China at the Zhejiang Gongshang University will do a showcase of PNG Bilums with other cultural displays from various cultural origins of PNG. The event will take place on the May 4th at the University's International Cultural Day celebrations.
        More than 20 PNG students will be participating in this international cultural event with many other students from various countries throughout the world with their cultures and traditions.

PNG students representative Shyriell Wembri said this event is an important cultural event for PNG students to display the richness in cultural variety from their home country PNG.
One of the main PNG cultural icons to be showcased is the popular tourist-loved PNG souvenir, the bilum. 
                  With its aesthetic value and uniqueness the bilum has already attracted residents in the Zhejiang Province. “It’s gonna be our cultural day so most bilums will be displayed with few of us wearing the bilum wear in PNG colours,” Wembri said.

She said PNG students will participate in traditional attires and dance the Tolai Dance, a display of PNG bilums (bilum bags, bilum wears and bilum hats) and other cultural items to the world so that they can see and know that there is a small island country called Papua New Guinea with its beautiful traditions and customs to feast their eyes.

A photo gallery on PNG bilum products being displayed and showcased at this event in China will be uploaded on this PNG Bilum blog. This blog is a volunteer initiative to promote PNG bilums for tourist attraction and stir literature on PNG bilums. Stay tune.

PNG student leader at Zhejiang Gongshang University Shyriell Wembri in her PNG flag colour bilum outfit with a bilum bag and a bilum hat in China. Image Courtesy of Shyriell Wembri / 2017.
A popular bilum pattern from the highlands of Papua New Guinea. Image: Bianca Barry / 2017.

A Kundu design bilum from Papua New Guinea, originated from the highlands. Image: BL Burgin Willie / 2017. 

A collection of PNG bilum variety from the highlands. Image: Samson Sala / 2017.

This is a bilum collection owned by Tasha, a young girl from the highlands of Papua New Guinea. Image: Tasha K Pep / 2017.
A collection of Wasara Bilums from East Sepik Province. Image: Jen Jen‎ on PNG Kona Market (Facebook Page), 2017. 

Young girls in traditional attire and with Sepik style bilums. Image: Nicole Morgan / 2017.

Spotted in this photograph is the Irish sensational singer and artist Ronan Keating's girlfriend Storm Uechtritz with her Sepik Bilum from Papua New Guinea. Image: 

Monday, 24 April 2017

Each bilum tells a story, recalls a personal tie and is the visualization of the psyche.


IN PNG traditional society bilums were cultural expressions from each cultural village, made and used for specific purposes and occasions. Today bilums are common in many regions of the country and abroad.

Maureen Anne Mackenzie on her paper "Androgynous Objects: String Bags and Gender in Central New Guinea (1991)" related that bilums were made mostly by non-Austronesian speakers, that is, mostly the Highlands and Momase regions which today popular bilum designs and patterns emerge from Mendi, Mt. Hagen, Goroka, Madang and Wasara (Sepik).

The Austronesian language speaking people from Southern and New Guinea Island regions then made and used baskets and clay pot that serves the same purposes as the bilums.

With the influence of western ideas and promotions of their concepts, changes have scattered and displaced many traditional skills and knowledges. For PNG women, it did not altered their bilum making skills and knowledge but instead the changes affected the use and perception of bilums. The creation of transportation systems, communications and business inventions have inspired the women to curve those perceptions of changes through the twisting of ropes.

From commercial point of view, bilum offered an opportunity for cash generations. The emergence of large scale transforms bilum production leads to the adaption of modernization of the country. New forms of bilums with new different styles and patterns have appeared and have become successful in urban areas. To meet the new expectations and demand, bilum weavers have chosen new materials and modified techniques in the fabrication of bilum bags.

The choice of new materials could be attributed to scarcity and unavailability of the traditional bush materials. The process of making a bilum requires time and patience, and those mothers who intend to make few bucks invest to buy "wool" (arcylic) or Nylon in order to get income more quickly. Importantly, bilum weavers buy imported ropes maybe because of the prestige associated with imported goods. 

Many bilum users carry bilums made of wool or Nylon consider that these modern materials are suitable to a modern environment. The use of imported materials allows women a level of complexity in pattern configuration which cannot be reached with fibres dyed naturally or with artificial colours. 

Modern materials offer a larger possibilities for bilum in trade and commercial than traditional. But the taste of modern material did not destroy the traditional bush materials as many bilums are still in natural fibre and they attract the same authenticity. 

Bilums are a permanent actualization of a moment of early childhood, an artefact in which we were swung as babies; the most lasting symbol of the affection and care of our mothers. Bilums secure and protect the most personal items and, at the same time, display the emotional relationships of of artefact holder with the person who made it. 

This psychological dimensions of bilums is one of the most salient aspects of the use of bilums. These bilums are kind of bridge between themselves and those they loved. For those who are living in the urban areas, bilums represent as well as affectionate link between holders and those they like, in particular if these last live far away. In a way, bilums restore a tie with their place of birth or place of origin, a part of their family and their culture, as with traditional adornments such as headdresses, gras shirts, bracelets or necklaces which they wear for special events. 

Unlike traditional adornments which are worn once in awhile, bilums can be worn constantly. Many adults, boys and girls or men and women can possess several bilums, some even collect them and display them on the walls of their house or rooms at the school or home.

Some of them, which are specially prized either because of their aesthetic or because of the person who made it, are worn only on special occasions such as family gatherings or religious events. In other words each bilum, modern or traditional, tells a different story, recalls personal ties and is a visualization of the psyche. 
Baby in the bilum being swung by her sister in Sydney, Australia.
Image: Arosame Wawe / 2017. 

Sepik girls dressed up in traditional attire with Wasara Bilas bilum.
Image: Doreen Dii Doenz / 2016.

Kimberly with a 'bu' soft drink and her bilum walking. Image: Wandařïï Kimberly / 2017.

Soniya with her PNG flag bilum. This is one of the many bilums she has in her possession. Image: Shonnyah Snider / 2017.

PNG's Deputy Opposition Leader Hon. Sam Basil in Upper Watut in his district on October 9 to deliver an ambulance was presented with a gift of bilum amongst others.
 Image: PANGU Party / 2017.

One of the many bilums Bianca from Tambul, Western Highlands Province has in her possession. Image: Bianca Barry / 2017.

Diana with two of the bilums she has made to sell them at the Goroka Bilum market.
 Image: Jmaio Diana / 2017.