1. string bag, net bag, traditionally slung behind from the head, and thereby capable of carrying loads of considerable weight. The bilum is a standard accessory for rural women in most of Papua New Guinea, and particularly in the Highlands region.

  • Meri tanim rop bilong bilum long lek bilong em.
    The woman is twisting bilum string on her leg.

2. pouch, bag

  • bilum bilong bol scrotum
  • bilum bilong pikinini placenta, uterus
  • bilum bilong pispis bladder
  • bilum bilong win lungs

3. afterbirth, placenta

FYI: String bags (bilums) were made from fibre from the bark of a number of plants, including the tulip tree, a species of Ficus, a Syzygium species and Hibiscus tiliaceus. Nowadays, bilums are mostly made from imported wool or string because these fibres last longer. Nevertheless, bilums made from locally grown plant fibre are still widely used in some parts of Papua New Guinea (PNG), including in the Telefomin and Oksapmin areas of Sandaun Province. A large number of bilums are sold in urban markets each year. They are widely used within PNG by women, men and children, are increasingly used in Solomon Islands, and a small number are exported to Australia.

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