Bilum Industry Weaves Own Market


The Papua New Guinea bilum industry wants the government to set up proper markets for the majority of female vendors to sell their products.

Florence Jaukae Kamel, managing director and principal artist of the Jaukae Bilum Products and founder of Goroka Bilum Weavers Co-operative and Goroka Bilum Festival, said this.

When speaking at the recent Bilum Fashion Show, Ms Jaukae said the Jaukae Bilum Products and Cooperative have been supporting the 80 per cent of rural mothers in the Highlands region and country for the past 15 years to help generate income to sustain their families.

“This will be my ninth year in the bilum fashion show business apart from taking part in overseas festivals and shows, which have been very life-changing experiences for me and other PNG mothers,” Ms Jaukae said.

She said bilums have been transformed from traditional baby carriers to a modern concept of weaving and designing to suit the international standards and markets.

She said the bilum has featured in poems, legends, and history; it has been displayed as traditional twines and as dyed bilum wear in clothing contests and as carrier bags competitions. The latest appearance was at the “Lord of the Ring Dress” fashion show.

“This dress featured on the runway in New York and in Sydney,” Ms Jaukae said, adding that the show captured the global attention of fashion designers that gave them an opportunity to see and experience the hidden talents of bilum makers and different patterns found in PNG; but uniquely, the Jaukae bilum dresses were on display.

She said the fashion show and the festival are expected to attract more people and tourists, who are flocking into Goroka for the annual Goroka Show. There was now a demand for a proper market avenue.

“I am calling on the government to see what I am doing and establish a PNG bilum industry and create a central market venue for PNG women to showcase, display and sell their products.

“We are also looking forward to the 2018 APEC Leaders’ Summit in Port Moresby next November – there is an opportunity for the growth of the PNG bilum industry,” Ms Jaukae said.

This year’s Bilum Fashion Show was sponsored by the Pacific Trade Invest Australia.

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