Ao         1st Century    Migrations      1700's           1800's           1900's               2000                    2001              2002






Hale Pulelehua
To learn more about HPS's rental dance studio, Hale Pulelehua, click here



  

NetEnterprise Inc.


Implement/Instrument Name:
Click to hear the pronunciation
`Ili`ili (Water-worn pebbles)

Published Research Sources: 
Unwritten Literature of Hawai`i (Emerson)
- Chapter XXI "The Music and Musical Instruments of the Hawaiians" notes the `ili`ili as a "noise-instrument pure and simple." He equates the technique to the playing of castanets in time to the music and chanting.

Hawaiian Dictionary (Puku`i/Elbert)
- Definition of "`ili`ili" reads "pebble, small stone, as used in dances or könane."

Hula: Historical Perspectives (Barrere/Puku`i/Kelly)
- Page 74 lists Hula `Ili`ili as a "sitting hula timed to the clapping of two smooth pebbles held adroitly in each hand." On page 93, Hula `Ili`ili is among those listed as hula from ancient times.

Nä Mele Hula volume 2 (Beamer)
- Page 3 offers Beamer's `ili`ili` ki`ipä (vamp) and explains how `ili`ili were chosen to fit their hands. It contains two chants that are danced with `Ili`ili: Pu`u`oni`oni, and `Ike I Ke One Kani A`o Nöhili. Details on each are provided.

Unwritten Literature of Hawai`i (Emerson)
- Chapter XXI "The Music and Musical Instruments of the Hawaiians" notes the `ili`ili as a "noise-instrument pure and simple." He equates the technique to the playing of castanets in time to the music and chanting.

Nä Mele Hula volume 1 (Beamer)
- Volume 1 lists two chants as Hula `Ili`ili: Ka Liko Pua Kukui for Moloka`i, and `Auhea `O Kalani for Lunalilo. Ke Ao Nani uses the `ili`ili and four other implements. Words, translation, personal comments, and Beamer's chant melodies are provided.


Additional Notes :
`Ili`ili are traditionally water-worn pebbles that have their origins in Hawai`i's volcanic rock. They are porous in nature, which allows their sound to resonate when clicked together. `Ili`ili can be found where a river meets the sea. Here the pebbles benefit from the constant flush of water that molds them into shapes and sounds perfect for hula.

Finding the right `ili`ili for an individual dancer's hands and sound preference can take some time, as each of our hands are unique in shape and size as are the `ili`ili. If you are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to pick `ili`ili in a natural environment, take your time and find the pair which suits your hands and appeals to your ears. If you must buy them at a store, be sure to try out whatever is available to hear and feel the difference between the pebbles.

Peter Buck notes that `ili`ili can also be shaped for dancing out of a heavier stone that provides a louder sound. In its Collection, the Bishop Museum has three such sets made out of hematite and manganese. Buck's research can be found in "Arts and Crafts of Hawai`i" Volume IX on "Musical Instruments," section "Stone Castanets," published by Bishop Museum Press.

The particular mawaena (interlude) used with the `ili`ili and the specific manner in which the `ili`ili are held may differ from one hula tradition to another. Very young children can use just one `ili`ili in each hand. Dancers should consult their Kumu Hula for guidelines in sizing the `ili`ili in accordance with their hula tradition.

See below for color photos of an `ili`ili set found at Honokohau Bay on the island of Maui.

Please see "Published Sources" section above for greater detail on where to find documented research on this Implement.

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

Visuals:
1 set of `ili`ili (2 for each hand)
`Ili`ili in dancer's hands
`Ili`ili beach at Honokohau, Maui
`Ili`ili beach at Honokohau, Maui
Closeup of `Ili`ili beach
Stretch of `ili`ili beach
Waves creating the perfect `ili`ili

Related Hula Types
Hula `Ili`ili (Dance with water-worn pebbles)
 

Related Chants
Ke Ao Nani (The beautiful world)
 

Related Küpuna
Beamer, Nona Kapuailohiamanonokalani Desha
 
  Site Map
Privacy Statment
   
     

Copyright © 2008 Hula Preservation Society, All Rights Reserved
Web Powered by NetEnterprise Inc.