String bag (Bilum) - ROM2004_947_13


String bag (Bilum)

Maker: Sepik
Medium:Woven fibre, shell
Geography: Melanesia, Korogo, East Sepik province, Papua New Guinea
Date: early 20th century
91.1 × 60 cm
Object number: 975.313.16
Credit Line: Gift of Mr. Frank L. Fournier
Not on view
DescriptionUbiquitous throughout Papua New Guinea and its adjacent countries, the “bilum” (string bag) is a general carrier, baby bassinet, ceremonial container, art and handicrafts object, and an all-purpose gift for departing friends and well-received visitors. Generally made by girls and women from plant and tree fibres, bilums are coloured in various imaginative designs, which become the (unpatented) property of the maker. Shells are sometimes included in the designs. When the furs of tree marsupials are added, especially in the highlands, the bilums become valuable items of exchange or presentation. Today bilums are made for sale in most towns of Melanesia. Additional Reading: 1. McKenzie, Maureen Anne. 1991 Androgynous Objects: String Bags and Gender in Central New Guinea. Chur, Switzerland, Philadelphia, Pa.: Harwood Academic Publishers. 2. Baker, Sylvia. 1985. Make Your Own Bilum. Brisbane, Queensland: Boolarong Publications.
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