Bilums are beautiful, traditional, intricately-woven bags, made by women throughout Papua New Guinea. The bilum technique of twisting and looping string in a rhythmical movement has been passed down through the generations. The process could almost be described as stitching, but in Papua New Guinea it is known by all as ‘bilum.’
Heritage bilums are made from a variety of foraged fibrous tissues such as those of the Tulip Tree and the Pandanus Palm. The fibres are twisted into string and often dyed by hand. This labour-intensive process is carried out to create bilums for cultural rituals and tribal exchanges. To save time and to increase their rate of production, PNG women have turned to man-made yarn that is available in a myriad of colours, rather than using the tree fibres. This has made a huge impact on their appearance, bringing a distinctly contemporary aesthetic to them.