Kaha di òrgel

Our intangible heritage!

Discover the Kaha di òrgel

The Kaha di òrgel / Ka’i òrgel is an important part of Aruban, Bonairean, and Curaçaoan culture. This musical instrument resembles a cross between a barrel organ and an organ. It consists of a (mahogany) wooden organ case, a (replaceable) rotating cylinder with a maximum of 8 music pieces, and a crank handle that, when turned, produces tones.

Typically, a Kaha di òrgel ensemble consists of the instrument itself, the person turning the crank handle, and the person playing the “wiri.” The wiri is a longitudinally cut, ribbed metal tube that ends in an upward curl, treated with a welding machine. By playing it with a metal rod, it produces a rhythmic tinkling sound.

On Aruba, individuals such as “Buchi” Boekhoudt and Elias Halabi are involved in crafting the organ case.

In Curaçao, among others, Serapio Pinedo, Stanley Rosinda, and Ronny Martina are involved in this process.

Each Ka’i òrgel is given its own name, such as ‘Elisabeth’ and ‘El Diamante’. The oldest functioning instrument is “El Porfadio”, located in Aruba, now 110 years old, and producing 9 music pieces exceptionally.

Marfensel Osepa and Arthur Kelly, who play the wiri, are known in the Netherlands for performances at public events and private parties. Both gentlemen own a Ka’i òrgel and possess practical and theoretical knowledge about its construction and functioning.

Watch a documentary about the making of barrel music here.

In 2016, on the initiative of the SPLIKA Foundation, it was placed on the National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Netherlands.

Read more about
our contribution to the protection of our culture

Tambú – inscribed in the Inventory since November 2016.