Some sun goddesses are motherly types. They shed their nurturing light on the earth, helping the plants grow and the people thrive. Not Bila. She preferred to burn people up. Every day she would send out her dingo dogs (this was back in the Dreamtime) to hunt down human victims for her great bonfires. Eventually Lizard and Gecko decided to put a stop to this—apparently they were fond of humans—and so they attacked her. Bila turned herself into a fireball and fled, leaving the world in darkness. Oops! Lizard and Gecko then had to figure out how to get her back, which they did by hurling a boomerang into the sky. Somehow the boomerang drove Bila back onto the horizon, and now she travels across the sky every day in the form of the burning sun.
There is no standard depiction of Bila as far as know, so the costume design is sort of abstract. The pieces we suggest:
1. Hand-drawn batik sarong featuring a gecko design and sun motif. This is for your top layer. We suggest wearing it as a strapless dress, just like on the mannequin in the picture.
2. “Holy Fire” dance skirt. Note this is just the skirt, not the top. It’s a ten-panel orange chiffon circle skirt with flame-yellow inserts. Wear it underneath the sarong for a fiery look all the way to the floor.
3. Yellow flame wig. It’s silly, but we love it.
4. Small fair-trade boomerang. These boomerangs are only about 8 inches across, so you could hang one around your neck as a giant pendant. Just tie a cord to the middle. These are hand-painted by Australian artists in the Central Desert region.
5. Plush dingo to carry with you. Or you could just bring your own dog.
Illustration credits: For the background of our abstract costume illustration we used part of a painting by Jabaljarri, a Jawoyn artist (northern Australia).