Bilums (string bags) are used for just about any type of carrying in PNG. They are purses, grocery bags, suitcases and backpacks. And they are also diaper bags, strollers and cribs. Although bilums look different in different parts of the country, most PNG babies find their first bed in a bilum.
My cousin recently had her first baby and so I sent her a bilum. I knew she wouldn’t carry the G-man around, hanging from her head, like women in PNG do but since it is a highlands bilum and the handle ties together I figured it could be used like a regular snuggie. Isn’t little G sweet?
This child is actually almost 8 (a bit small for her age) but she got sick and needed to be carried back to the village. Her sister has a strong neck like most PNG women who are use to carrying heavy loads like this and so it was no problem. Just stick the kid in the bilum and get them where they need to go. Comfortable and convenient.
In the Madang area, babies get hung up while they sleep. Just find a sturdy tree branch or a hook in the rafters of the house and the baby can sleep peacefully. While I was in Madang I saw lots of women who had a hook or favorite tree branch and they would just hang up the babies and let them sleep peacefully while they were cooking, gardening or doing other tasks. Gives a whole new meaning to the nursery rhyme- Rock a bye baby in the tree tops…..