ROUGH CUT: Final Should be Complete by summer 2015.
Being able to carry around a bag with one's belongings is important to everyone. The Sawiyano women of the East Sepik Province of Papua New Guinea, like most rural women in PNG, make string bags to haul their belongings. Sawiyano call them "i" but all over PNG they are known as bilums. Sizes and tightness of the weave depends on the usage which ranges from carrying sleeping babies to beetlenut to food of all sorts and even wiggling pets of puppies or piglets. Small personal items are carried in little bags. Men and women of all ages carry them either around the neck, on-top the head, or on the shoulder.
After locating a tulip tree, they cut it down and pull off its bark in long pieces. Then they pull the soft inner fibers away from the outer bark. Rather than starting with a very long string - they add to the length as needed by rolling new fibers into the end of the string. Their methods vary from knotless netting to crocheting. Natural dyes are used to color the strings and items like feathers or seeds are also sometimes added.
Thanks to Apo, Yetra, Torin, Sopai's Mom and Boram for demonstrating the technique.
Filmed in Summer of 2012 by brothers James (Poya) Mera, Bob (Lori) Mera and Betni Kalk.