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Ancient Hula Type Name
Click to hear the pronunciation
Hula Ipu (Dance with hollow gourd)

Further Detail
Hula Ipu, or dance with a hollowed gourd, is done in a standing position. The dancer can use either the ipu heke (double gourd) or ipu heke `ole (single gourd with open top) in this hula type. The dancers will typically chant themselves, as they keep their own rhythm and tell the story with the implement in their hands. This hula type can be contrasted with Hula Päipu, also done with the ipu, but in a seated position.

The two basic beats of any ipu are commonly referred to as "u" (downbeat) and "te" (upbeat). While dancing a Hula Ipu, the "u" is played with the heel of the hand on the bottom of the gourd, and the "te" is played with the fingers of the same hand hitting the side of the gourd. The Hawaiian dictionary notes that the sound of the thin-walled hula ipu is "halfway between that of niu (coconut) and la`amia."

The particular mawaena (interlude) used with the ipu and the manner in which the ipu is utilized to tell the story may differ from one hula tradition to the next. In some traditions, the gourd hand may be switched during the dance. Regardless of the particulars, a Hula Ipu takes practice and dedication to simultaneously play the instrument, execute hula steps, and chant.

Black and white photos show performances of Hula Ipu (standing) and Hula Päipu (seated). The studio pose and photo of Kaläkaua's 1886 Jubilee at `Iolani Palace are from the Hawai`i State Archives. The remaining black and white photos are from Nona Beamer's Archives.

General Body Position: Kü (standing)
Can be for Game, Pastime, or Sport: No
Implement or Instrument: Yes

Published Research Sources

Papa Kuhikuhi (Kaläkaua's Coronation Program)
- In Kaläkaua's extensive Coronation program of over 200 presentations, 35 Hula Päipu were performed, but nothing is listed as just "Hula Ipu."

Nä Mele Hula volume 2 (Beamer)
- Pages 3-4 tell of Beamer's ipu ki`ipä (vamp) and how her Hula Ipu came to be. Pages 46-47 contain a Hula Ipu from her hula tradition. The chant is "E Manono" and she provides a personal account, chant background, and full text with translation.

Hawaiian Dictionary (Puku`i/Elbert)
- Definition #1 of "ipu" details the varied uses of gourds in Hawaiian life. The thinner-walled ones used in hula give a sound somewhere between that of niu (coconut) and la`amia (used for `ülili). Definition #4 is the "drum" used in this hula type.

Hula: Historical Perspectives (Barrere/Puku`i/Kelly)
- Historical accounts of the use of ipu are noted on the following pages: 17 (top quote), 27 (top quote), 30 (middle quote), 34 (bottom quote), and 35 (middle quote). Page 63 references Emerson's documentation of Hula Ipu.

Unwritten Literature of Hawai`i (Emerson)
- Ch IX "Hula Ala`apapa" tells of ipu use by ho`opa`a. Ch X "Hula Paipu, or Kuolo" details use by seated dancers. Ch XXI details making of the ipu, its use in hula, and unique sound. Ch XI "Hula Ki`i" ends with a comment on ipu hula in general.

Hula Pahu volume 1 (Kaeppler)
- Volume I emphasizes that pahu steps are distinctly different than those utilized in hula with ipu. Pg. 77 notes arm movements and "lower-body motifs" in hula with ipu are not integrated as with Hula Pahu, so footwork can be interchanged.

Hula Pahu volume 2 (Tatar)
- Pages 47-48 note documentation of Hula Ipu by Captain Cook's crew in 1778-79. Pages 288 and 299 note two Hula Pahu chants which evolved into Hula Ipu as "Ho`i Kealoha I Ni`ihau" and "Ke Welina." Page 325 footnote #6 notes use of ipu with püniu.

Sacred Hula: The Historical Hula `Äla`apapa (Stillman)
- Page 20-21 provide a detailed listing of Hula `Äla`apapa chants and several sub-categories include ipu use: "Hula Ipu," "Hula Ipu Wai," "Hula Pä Ipu," and "Ka`i with Ipu." Appendix A provides listing of sound recordings with 14 references to ipu.

Additional Notes
Please see "Published Sources" section above for greater detail on where to find documented research on this Hula Type.

Another resource is Peter Buck's "Arts and Crafts of Hawai`i" Volume IX on "Musical Instruments." The section "Gourd Drums" provides details of the construction of the ipu heke, an instrument unique to Hawai`i. Photo and diagram are included. Series is published by Bishop Museum Press.

Please also consult the "Kupuna" section at bottom to read and hear what our elders have to share.

Studio pose with ipu heke
Nona Beamer performing a Hula Ipu, 2000
Hula Päipu at Kaläkaua's Jubilee, 1886
Hula Ipu by Beamer dancers, 1948
Hula Troupe performing a Hula Ipu, 2000
Hula Päipu by Beamer keiki hula students, 1950's

Related Chants
E Manono (O Manono)

Related Implements/Instruments
Ipu (Gourd)

Related Küpuna
Beamer, Nona Kapuailohiamanonokalani Desha
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