the writer is a lonely hunter

writing by Gail Aldwin and other authors

Bored with Boxing Day? Read a little bit more about PNG

on December 26, 2012

For those of you still wondering what on earth the artefact below is used for, let me put you out of your misery.  It is not a drinking vessel or a hearing aid, but a piece of clothing.

penis gourd

A penis gourd is worn amongst the male members of tribes in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea. It is secured by the rattan loop and worn in an upright position without other clothing.  While it is frequently assumed that the wearer is making a sexual display it is more usual for Highlanders to simply wear the penis gourd to cover themselves.

One of my other treasures from Papua New Guinea is my bilum bag. This is a netted bag which is made from imported wool that is twisted into twine.  The colours make this type of bag more sought after than the tradition ones made from woven plant reed. Each bilum has a long strap that is worn by women across the forehead to enable the carrying of heavy loads balanced over the back.  Depending on the design, bilums also make useful baby carriers.

Here’s my bilum, complete with long tassels and a line of marsupial fur that drives dogs to distraction whenever I carry it.

bilum 001 (2)

What are your favourite purchases from oversea travel?

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