THEY were branded as ‘evil’ and ‘ungodly’, and removed from Papua New Guinea's parliament, but after two and a half years, the carved heads are to make a comeback.
This week, PNG's national court ruled against the speaker of parliament's removal of cultural carvings and a totem pole from the national parliament in 2013.
The speaker, Theo Zurenuoc, had ordered their removal after claiming the cultural adornments were associated with a pagan, animist background, and therefore "evil and ungodly".
The court however concluded the removed objects were protected under the National Cultural Property Act, and ordered they be repaired and restored.
The ruling comes in the same week that Port Moresby hosted Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe and other leaders in a summit of the European Union-linked African, Caribbean and Pacific group.
It also comes at a time when PNG is experiencing one of its relatively frequent periods of political chaos.
The prime minister Peter O'Neill is facing mounting pressure to resign, while a cash flow crisis and other court rulings have put him on the back foot - a far cry from the relative comfort of his position in late 2013.
He might well wonder if the removal of the heads triggered some sort of hex on him.
The lintel above the front face of the building featuring nineteen gargoyle-type carved heads in a row was one of a number of striking features on PNG's majestic parliament building, a massive Haus Tambaran.
The anthropomorphic heads originally represented each of provinces in the country at independence, and hinted at the complexity of PNG as a nation of many different tribes, with over 800-plus distinct language groups.
However, Mr Zurenuoc, one of a cabal of devout evangelical Christian MPs in the house, ordered the removal of the heads in 2013 as part of his campaign "to restore, reform and modernise parliament".
"Papua New Guineans have a very close affinity to the spiritual world," he told RNZI .
"We believe in spirits, but there are good spirits and bad spirits."
Certainly, some local commentators at the time saw merit in the speaker's claim that the removal of the carvings and art work was a stepping stone to change.
But many saw it as an attack on PNG cultural heritage.
"The things that are removed, they are representing a culture. So he is trying to remove the culture" said Father Victor Roche of PNG's Catholic Bishops' Conference.
Others felt the 19 carved heads were being wrongly blamed for the transgressions of MPs themselves.