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Hale Pulelehua
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Implement/Instrument Name:
Click to hear the pronunciation
`Ülili (Spinning gourd rattle)

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: 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."

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.

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.

Nä Mele Hula volume 2 (Beamer)
- Volume 2 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.

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.

Additional Notes :
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.

One may see the `ülili made of coconuts instead of la`amia. Although coconuts may be less expensive and can be easier to find, the sound quality of the finished product is definitely compromised.

This implement is utilized in an ancient hula type by the same name: Hula `Ülili. The particular mawaena (interlude) and the specific movements with the `ülili may differ from one tradition to another.

See below for color photos of an `ülili made by master implement maker Calvin Hoe and family. A black and white photo shows the `ülili lying on stage in a 1950's hula show at Queen's Surf.

Please see "Published Sources" section above for greater detail on where to find documented research on this Implement. There is a writeup on the `ülili in Chapter IV "Musical Instruments" of the book entitled "Hawaiian and Other Polynesian Gourds" by Ernest S. Dodge ( 1978, Topgallant Publishing Co.)

Bishop Museum Press published a series by Peter Buck entitled "Arts and Crafts of Hawai`i." Volume IX is on "Musical Instruments." The section "Triple Gourd Rattles" describes the two instruments in the museum's collection and explains how the instrument works. Buck does not mention the end gourds containing seeds and 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.

Branches of la`amia tree, Hilo, Hawai`i
La`amia (green fruit on trunk, when mature and dried, become gourd for `ülili)
Look at full `ülili
Closeup of end
Closeup of middle section
Dancer holding `ülili
`Ülili on stage at Queen's Surf Hotel show

Related Hula Types
Hula `Ülili (Dance with spinning gourd rattle)
Hula Wahi Pana (Dance for legendary or historic places)

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

Related Küpuna
Beamer, Nona Kapuailohiamanonokalani Desha
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