Not just a baby carrier

Dayak embellished baby carriers
photo source

The women of many Dayak  tribes weave glass beads into fascinating patterns that are used to decorate the unusual baby baskets that are sometimes the most valuable piece of property that a family possesses.
This type of baby basket is called ba. Mothers use them to carry their babies around on their backs from their birth and until they are two years old. The framework for the basket is usually made of rattan, which is then decorated with a complex fabric of beads.

Baby carrier from Borneo, 1920-40
Baby carrier, Kenyah Dayak People, Borneo, ca. 1920 - 1940. Photo source 

Baby carrier from Borneo, 20th century
Baby carrier, Bahau people. Borneo 20th century.  Wikimechanics Library

Magical amulets made of old beads, buttons, coins, cowry shells or animal teeth are often loosely attached. The number of teeth hung gives the indication of the sex of the baby: even number for a girl and odd for a boy. The slightest movement creates the rattling noise that is meant to keep evil spirits away. The bead patterns also indicate the social status of the baby's parents. The ba of a noble family will be decorated with a human figure or the dog-dragon motif, while lower-ranking tribal members use geometric patterns.

Baby carrying baskets from Sarawak
Baby carrying baskets from Sarawak. Museum Volunteers

Carrying a baby in a beaded basket. Photo courtesy  D Lumenta

For Dayaks ba is not just a baby carrier, it is a work of art, a device for protecting a child’s health, a display of social rank and a family heirloom.

More about ba carriers you can find in the article from Penn Museum

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  1. Wow, what amazing baby carriers! A little more glamorous and interesting than our conventional baby slings, that's for sure. xxx

  2. LOVE this! its such a gorgeous design with beautiful colors!


  3. Oh my gosh those are so amazing! People would spend tons of loot on them here in America, it would be a hipster feeding frenzy :) Thank you for sharing these beautiful and fun pieces. Happy weekend to you my lovely friend! xoxo

    All Things Bright and Lovely

  4. Wow! Very interesting to know! These baby carriers are quite creative and beautiful. Lovely way to carry babies in these unique baskets :)

  5. Very beautiful post! I think those baby carriers could be wonderful bags too! (With little changes of course)

  6. These baby carriers are really a work of art! Perhaps the sounds that the teeth creates when the carriage is in movements also keep the babies entertained, like modern toys we have today. I always love to see traditional toys and baby products, they show how much love the parents and family always had for their children. In my hometown Split, on the day of our patron saint, traditional wooded toys are sold. When I was little, my mother would made me Barbie dolls made of paper and there were matching paper outfits that you could change...I really enjoyed that!

    thank you on both your comments( about the story and about the pants). I tried to create a detailed design on the pants and I was inspired by traditional embroidery.