Bilums are an iconic and integral part of Papua New Guinea. For centuries women have been hand weaving bilums. These traditions passed down initially as a means of necessity; to transport garden harvests and firewood as well as to ingeniously soothe babies.
In more modern times however, the women craft these uniquely designed pieces to generate an income for their families at their local market.
As two girls growing up in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea, we have always been inspired by these talented artisans and their craft. In fact, as babies we were both carried by these very bilums!
Our aim for Our Tribe PNG is to simply bring these crafts to the world community in order to provide the artisans a wider market of buyers. The artisans deserve this - each piece is handmade and crafted in an arduous, painstaking process.
After completing their master pieces, the artisans commute either by foot or bus from rural and remote villages to the closest townships to sell their bilums and baskets (each piece taking weeks-months to complete) with no guarantee of a sale. With tourism being a huge contributor to the bilum and basket industry, the artisans rely on sporadic visiting buyers for income - making it hard to earn enough to support themselves and their families.
Our Tribe PNG purchases all of our products primarily from female artisans, and often place orders for more bilums and baskets. This ensures they are guaranteed an income for their crafts on completion. Alternatively these women display their beautifully crafted products at the local market, airports and hotels with no assurance of when they will sell. Our Tribe PNG does not employ a team of weavers and instead purchases from all artisans in Mt Hagen, West Highlands Province and Goroka, Eastern Highlands Province.
From the woman in PNG, these bilums and baskets are a gift of timeless quality and design.