Wat learns the art of bilum-weaving

National

By OGIA MIAMEL
PAPUA New Guinea is blessed with more than 800 languages and ethnic groups and some of the cultures and traditions are naturally reflected in the art of bilum-weaving.
Women in the highlands and coastal villages show contrasting touches in their weaving in terms of colours and designs and some are made for occasions and work such as those for carrying babies, food from the gardens, traditional wear and bride price.
Trisha Wat, a mother of four from Heboa village in Mekeo and married to a man from Goilala, both in Central, has turned bilum-weaving into a hobby that she loves doing every day.
She weaves bilums for her four children to carry their books and lunches to school and also as gifts for her in-laws.
Wat is able to weave many styles and patterns of Highlands bilum and so far has weaved colourful designs.
In fact, it will be hard to find a design she has not weaved or cannot weave.
She has received a lot of praise from her Highlands friends.
Wat started weaving bilum last year after watching her sister-in-law Kwika turning it into an art form.
She admired how Kwika wove different but attractive patterns intermixed with colours and asked if she could learn too.
Kwika taught her for two weeks on how to twist wool or nylon strings and then she started with plain, easy pattern.
There was no holding back.
She can now make bilum using traditional patterns from her village in Mekeo and can also weave letters and names of people and places.
Wat is working on completing 10 bilums for her sister-in-law who is on her first trip overseas.
She has completed five already and is working on another five.
She does not sell her bilums but whenever a friend goes to her to buy one, Wat offers it for a far cheaper price. She believes the art of weaving bilum is dying to the influence of western culture.
Wat’s next assignment is a bilum and outfit for her daughter’s Grade 8 graduation.

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