Turtle pattern bilum by Susan Ako. It’s unusual to find animal motifs in bilums but this is such a clever design.
Size: 47cm x 37cm
Bilums are the all purpose handbags or shoulder-bags carried by everyone in Papua New Guinea.
Traditionally they are made of earth toned tree and grass fibres. A colourful everyday bilum like this one these days is more commonly made from synthetic yarn and dyes like this one. This makes it fully washable in hot or cold water with no shrinkage of loss of colour.
We sell bilums to raise money for our health and education projects in the remote highland communities of Paigatasa and Gimi in the Eastern Highlands Province of Papua New Guinea. Women from the communities make a bilum handbag or shoulder bag to earn money to send their children to school – Papua New Guinea does not have free education – or to buy household goods or food or other necessities.
We pay them the amount they individually set to cover their labour, which they set with one eye also on the price the bilum would fetch in the bilum market in Goroka next to the Bird of Paradise Hotel. Every bilum is unique, with women giving their own interpretations of traditional and modern patterns. We also buy the synthetic yarn that is used in bilums like this one. By agreement with the women, we then add on an amount with all profits going to health and education projects selected, developed and managed by the communities. The prices we charge vary with the material used, size and complexity of the design.
All the money from the bilum sale goes to the woman who made the bilum and to the community projects. We don’t keep any of it.
Like this turtle pattern bilum? Check out more designs at our bilum marketplace.
Read about the health and education community managed projects.
Read the Paiga Story.
Donate to our community developed and managed health and education projects.