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Ancient Hula Type Name
Click to hear the pronunciation
Hula `Ülili (Dance with spinning gourd rattle)

Further Detail
Hula `Ülili, or dance with a spinning gourd rattle, is done in a standing position to allow full body movement and full freedom with the implement. The implement itself consists of three la`amia gourds mounted on a stick. The middle gourd is held in the dancer''s hand and a string is pulled which causes the two end gourds to spin, an action similar to that of a yoyo. The middle gourd must fit comfortably in the dancer''s hand to ensure the grip is not lost when the string is pulled. Inside these two gourds are ali`i poe (canna) seeds, which create a unique whirring sound.

Auntie Nona Beamer recalls hearing about a type of `ülili on Moloka`i that did not have seeds inside the two end gourds. Peter Buck documented this type of `ülili as part of the Bishop Museum Collection. See "Additional Notes" for more details.

The particular mawaena (interlude) used with the `ülili and the specific movements carried out with the implement may differ from one hula tradition to another. Regardless of the particulars, the `ülili takes dedicated practice to have the string successfully recoil after each pull, at the same time executing precise hula steps, and possibly also coordinating that with the demands of chanting.

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, 37 Hula `Ülili are listed, as led by Kumu Hula S. Kalaimano, Dandy Ioane, I, Ehu Keohohina, and Kaonowai.

Hawaiian Dictionary (Puku`i/Elbert)
- Definition of #4 of "`ülili" is the one intended here, namely a musical instrument consisting of three gourds mounted on a stick. It makes a whirring sound when the string is pulled. "Hula Kolili" is listed as "A dance with love forfeits."

Hula: Historical Perspectives (Barrere/Puku`i/Kelly)
- Page 62 mentions the Hula `Ülili in a quote from Hawaiian writer Malo. He includes this hula type among a short list of "varieties of hula." This page also notes that Emerson provides no explanation on this hula type in "Unwritten Literature."

Hula Pahu volume 1 (Kaeppler)
- References to "`ülili" in this Volume are to the hula step by that name, not to the spinning gourd rattle.

Hula Pahu volume 2 (Tatar)
- Several references are made to `ülili and Hula `Ülili in this book. Of interest are the varying definitions of "`ülili." In reference to this "`ülili," it is noted it was likely a 19th century adaptation and was used to accompany the hula ku`i.

Unwritten Literature of Hawai`i (Emerson)
- Chapter XXXVII is entitled "The Hula Ulili," however it has no connection to the spinning gourd rattle intended here. Emerson's "ulili" is another name for Hula Kolili, a playful love dance. See "Hawaiian Dictionary" listing below for more.

Nä Mele Hula volume 2 (Beamer)
- Page 4 provides Beamer's description of her 4-count `ülili vamp. Page 73 lists a Hula `Ülili, namely "He Moku Ka`ula." Full text, English translation, and Beamer's recollections with her grandmother are also provided on the chant page.

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

The Bishop Museum Press published a series by Buck called "Arts and Crafts of Hawai`i." Volume IX is entitled "Musical Instruments." In the section on "Triple Gourd Rattles", he describes the two instruments, but does not mention the end gourds as containing seeds. He says a "whizzing" sound is produced rather than a rattle. He also claims the `ülili was a toy and not used to give time to dances. A photo is included which shows one `ülili and a pair of pü`ili.

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

Dancer holding `ülili
Keiki hula student holding `ülili
Hula `Ülili by Nona Beamer, 1999
Dancers performing Hula `Ülili
Beamer hula students dancing a Hula `Ülili

Related Chants
He Moku Ka`ula (The island Ka`ula)

Related Implements/Instruments
`Ülili (Spinning gourd rattle)

Related Küpuna
Beamer, Nona Kapuailohiamanonokalani Desha
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