AN ABELAM SHELL BILUM

Provenance: Steijler Mission SVD, Father Höltker 1935-1938

This is a beautiful and old Woven Fiber Bilum Shell Bag with shells attached to the front from the Abelam people of the East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea. These shells were used as traditional currency among the Papua New Guinea People. These bags and shells were used for bride price payments, death compensations and other exchanges. Throughout New Guinea and West Papua string bags are essential companions to men, women, and children, for protection and fertility. The flexible, looped net bags called Bilums are made by women, using hand-spun bark fibers formed into a strong two-ply string. Women hand-spin bark fibers and loop expansive unadorned bags which they use in their everyday tasks to store and carry produce from their gardens, sacred bones and to cradle their babies.

Abelam People, East Sepik Province
Shells and vegetable fiber, 50 x 34 cm.

Price: € 850