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Ancient Hula Type Name
Click to hear the pronunciation
Hula Ali`i (Dance for chief or monarch)

 
Further Detail
Dances for our ali`i comprise a large class of hulas and can take many forms. They can be done sitting or standing, with limited body movement or wide free movement. They can be done with or without the use of implements or instruments. They can be done with the dancers themselves chanting and/or playing an implement, or with the dancers being accompanied by the ho`opa`a. What ultimately determines the manner in which a Hula Ali`i is performed (beyond the particulars of the hula tradition doing the Hula Ali`i) are the specific ali`i chant, what is appropriate to the particular ali`i being honored and the story being told.

Often a Hula Ali`i will be referred to as either Mele Inoa (name chant) or Mele Ali`i (poetic text for royalty). The common thread is the dedication to one of high status, such as King Kamehameha, King David Kaläkaua or Queen Emma, to name a few.

Keep in mind that not all chants written for ali`i are necessarily Hula Ali`i. In other words, not all compositions for the ali`i are danced to.

General Body Position: Kü or Noho (Standing or Sitting)
Can be for Game, Pastime, or Sport: No
Implement or Instrument: With or Without

Published Research Sources

Papa Kuhikuhi (Kaläkaua's Coronation Program)
- This document is a listing of the hula and chants performed for Kaläkaua's Coronation in February 1883. Many of the chants listed were written in his honor for the occasion and therefore were Hula Ali`i or Mele Ali`i. Consult document for details.

Unwritten Literature of Hawai`i (Emerson)
- Chapter IV "Support and Organization of the Hula" notes that mele inoa could not contain any ill words or the composer would suffer a terrible fate. Chapter XV "The Hula Kalaau" contains a name chant for Kaläkaua (first line: O Kaläkaua, he inoa).

Hawaiian Dictionary (Puku`i/Elbert)
- Definition of "ali`i" includes "Chief, chiefess, officer, ruler, monarch, peer, headman, noble, aristocrat, king, queen, commander."

Hula: Historical Perspectives (Barrere/Puku`i/Kelly)
- Page 13 discusses Hula Ali`i. Page 73 has a comment on the creation of mele ali`i. Pages 26-55 of Chapter "Historical Accounts of the 19th Century" offer glimpses into societal attitudes toward hula from ali`i, commoner, and foreign perspectives.

Sacred Hula: The Historical Hula `Äla`apapa (Stillman)
- Page 31 begins discussion of chants for chiefs in the Kamehameha line. Page 42 gives the names of chants dedicated to Kaläkaua, Lili`uokalani, Likelike, Leleiohoku, and Pauahi.

Nä Mele Hula volume 1 (Beamer)
- Volume 1 has a section on Hula Ali`i, including chants for Lili`uokalani, Lunalilo, Kühiö Kalaniana`ole, Likelike, and Kaläkaua. Chant words with English translation, personal comment, and Beamer's chant melodies are provided with each.

Hula Pahu volume 1 (Kaeppler)
- Volume 1 contains many references to mele inoa (name chants) for ali`i, including ones dedicated to Kamehameha I, Emma, Kaläkaua, and Kapi`olani. Look under "mele inoa" in the index for the pages on which the chant details can be found.

Hula Pahu volume 2 (Tatar)
- Volume 2 contains many references to mele inoa (name chants) for ali`i, including ones dedicated to Kauikeaouli, Kaläkaua, Emma, and Kihapi`ilani. Look under "mele inoa" in the index for the pages on which the chant details can be found.

Nä Mele Hula volume 2 (Beamer)
- Volume 2 has a section on Hula Ali`i, including chants for Manono, Emma, Kaläkaua, Kapi`olani, Kühiö Kalaniana`ole, Lili`uokalani, Lunalilo, and Kaho`änokü. Chant words with English translation and personal comments are provided with each.


Additional Notes
Please see "Published Sources" section above for greater detail on where to find documented research on this Hula Type. Visuals are part of Hawai`i State Archives Collection.

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

Visuals:
Queen Emma
Kamehameha V, Lot Kamehameha
Princess Pauahi
Kamehameha the First
Princess Ka`iulani
King David Kaläkaua

Related Chants
E Manono (O Manono)
Ho`i Kealoha i Ni`ihau (Love returns to Ni`ihau)
Holo Ana `O Kaläkaua (Kaläkaua is sailing)
Lili`u E (Queen Lili`u)
 

Related Implements/Instruments
Ipu (Gourd)
Kä`eke`eke (Bamboo pipe)
 

Related Küpuna
Beamer, Nona Kapuailohiamanonokalani Desha
Holokai, George Ainsley Kananiokeakua
 
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