Chimbu Province is the rugged mountainous terrain, and its inhabitants transformed their steep hills into a patchwork of gardens. Traditionally, the Chimbu tribes don’t live in villages but in dispersed settlements. Typical houses in Chimbu Province are oval or rectangular, with dirt floors, low thatched roofs, and walls woven from flattened reeds. Men live in large communal men’s houses (hausman) set on ridges for defensive purpose while women, children, and pigs live in separate houses. Today, with the influence of the modern world, the majority of men and women live together as a couple.
One of the important ceremonies in Chimbu culture used to be the boys’ initiation where young boys live in seclusion while receiving the traditional male education. The ceremony, during which the young boys are subject to bloodletting and painful ordeals, culminates in massive pig sacrifices. The ceremony used to be held every seven to ten years. Although today this ceremony has slowly died out, large pig killing ceremonies are still held.
Pigs are the most valuable asset for Chimbu tribes and the main exchange item in many ceremonies such as marriage celebration or death rituals. Pigs are also used to thank women for giving birth to a child to perpetuate the husband’s clan. The largest of these ceremonies is bugla ingu (pig killing ceremony), where hundreds or thousands of pigs are slaughtered, cooked, and distributed. Bugla ingu is an exchange ceremony where the giver creates a debt that the receiver must repay in the future in order not to lose prestige. These ceremonial exchanges are important in Chimbu culture in developing and maintaining relationships between the tribes.
The Chimbu tribes are well known for their huge headdresses made from feathers of birds of paradise, with some of them up to one meter long. The tribal people from Chimbu Province decorate their bodies with kina shells, and paint themselves with mud and clay mixed with oil from plants and pig’s fat to make the body shine and to keep it warm during the cold time of the day. The Chimbu people’s impressive “bilas” (body ornament) originated as a way to intimidate their enemies.
As many other Highlanders, the Chimbu tribes practice the marriage ceremony called “bride price”, which involves a large amount of valuables, mainly pigs and kina shells, now replaced with money. The bride price is negotiated and given by the groom to the father of the bride in compensation for the loss of his daughter. The agreed bride price reflects the perceived value of the woman.