GW146- Baby Bilum or Kalai in local Timorese language. Meet Bapak Yermanis Maubanu who delights in hand-rolling string then knotting to create these great baby bilum. Ain’t he special.
Bilum or Kalai are hand-knotted String bags which have been crafted & used by West Timorese for hundreds of years. Traditionally made from strips of bark, jungle grass or rope some are rolled from strips gleaned from stripping the large plastic rice sacks.
More and more these days the men, who hand roll the string, opt for colourful combinations of factory string which they re-twine into these happy little bilum that is made with lots of village heart. Smaller than their PNG counterparts which are sometimes used to carry babies, piglets, belongings, food or firewood the West Timorese people mostly use their KALAI to bring pineapples, bananas or other veg and fruit to and from the local regional markets.
Great for markets, shopping or to add to your collection.
33cm/13″ L appx
The bilum expands
If you wish to gather multiple treasures, and international buyers are welcome, this website and shop cart should allow for it. If not, I will contact you to find the most economical way to send your treasures to you.
I am Julie and have been collecting Timorese Treasures in the field since 1990 when I won a prize for overseas travel in a pub in Darwin [true]. I had no idea at the time that I had stumbled upon an Aladdin’s cave of authentic traditional tribal textiles and treasures. I have been returning annually ever since [well most years] and been witness to many changes across the last 3 decades.
Clearly none of us are sure what will happen post COVID, but I do know that the villagers, carvers and weavers up in the mountains will be grateful when some outside dollars come into their informal/circular economy. Therefore, every purchase you choose to make with me will benefit the Atoni [people of West Timor] as soon as I can get back there.
I distribute reading glasses and nutritious food seeds as the soil in the western half of Timor is very poor and water a very precious resource. Please contact me if you wish to contribute.