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Implement/Instrument Name:
Click to hear the pronunciation
Ipu (Gourd)

Published Research Sources: 
Papa Kuhikuhi (Kaläkaua's Coronation Program)
- In Kaläkaua's extensive Coronation program of over 200 presentations, the ipu appears in 35 presentations, by Kumu Hula Dandy Ioane, Ehu Keohohina, Kaonowai, and S. Ua. They can all be found under the listing "Hula Päipu."

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).

Nä Mele Hula volume 2 (Beamer)
- Pages 3-4 offer the Beamer ki`ipä (vamp) associated with the ipu. She explains the hand positions, body positions, and basic beats, and further notes that there are over 30 different ipu rhythm patterns in her hula tradition.

Hula Pahu volume 1 (Kaeppler)
- There is no information on the implement itself. Rather the focus is on the steps used in hula with ipu, as compared to those used in hula with pahu accompaniment.

Hula Pahu volume 2 (Tatar)
- Pages 47-48 note the 1778-79 documentation of the ipu in hula by Captain Cook's crew. Page 325 footnote #6 notes use of ipu with püniu dating back to 1816. Pages 288 and 299 note two Hula Pahu chants that evolved into Hula Ipu.

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.

Unwritten Literature of Hawai`i (Emerson)
- Chapter XXI details the making of the ipu, its use in hula, and its unique sound. Chapter IX "The Hula Ala`apapa" tells of the use of ipu by the ho`opa`a (musicians). Chapter X "The Hula Paipu, or Kuolo" details use by the dancers while seated.

Additional Notes :
Ipu play a key role in hula by providing rhythm and sound for the chant and dancers. Those who accompany the dancers with ipu and chant are called ho`opa`a. At times, the dancers will play the gourd while doing their hula steps and chanting.

Ipu grow on a vine and mature into a unique shape and look. The two main types of ipu are: ipu heke and ipu heke `ole. Ipu heke is a double gourd that is made by taking two gourds of different sizes, cutting them off at the necks and joining them, with the smaller one on top. A hole is carved in the top gourd to allow the sound to escape. The ipu heke `ole is a single gourd cut off at the neck. See below for photos of both of these types of ipu. A handle can be attached to make it easier for the dancer or ho`opa`a to hold, play, and transport.

The two basic beats of any ipu can be referred to as "u" (downbeat) and "te" (upbeat). If an ipu heke is being played while seated, the "u" beat is done upon the ground or mat. Otherwise, the downbeat is played with the heel of the hand on the bottom of the gourd. In either case, the "te" is played with the fingers of the hand hitting the side of the gourd. A skillful player can also do a finger roll or hand flutter to compliment the two basic sounds. The Hawaiian dictionary notes that the thin-walled hula ipu's sound is "halfway between that of niu (coconut) and la`amia."

See below for color photos of two ipu heke. The larger was made by master implement maker Calvin Hoe and family. The smaller one came from Pähoa on Hawai`i island. Black and white photos show the ipu in use and in posed studio shots going back to the late 1800's (Hawai`i State Archives and Nona Beamer's Archives).

Please see "Published Sources" section above for greater detail on where to find documented research on this Implement. For more detail on the numerous uses of gourds in the Pacific, refer to a book entitled "Hawaiian and Other Polynesian Gourds" by Ernest S. Dodge (1978, Topgallant Publishing Co.)

Another resource is Peter Buck's "Arts and Crafts of Hawai`i" Volume IX on "Musical Instruments." The section "Gourd Drums" gives great detail into the construction of 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.

Ipu heke `ole
Studio pose with ipu heke, late 1800's
Dancer holding ipu heke `ole
Dancer holding ipu heke `ole
Ipu heke
Dancer holding smaller ipu heke
Neck joint of smaller ipu heke
Top hole of larger ipu heke
Neck joint of larger ipu heke
Unusual shaped ipu heke `ole
Dancers performing Hula Päipu at Kaläkaua's Jubilee, 1886
Dancers using ipu heke at Kaläkaua's Jubileee, 1886
Ho`opa`a playing ipu heke for dancers

Related Hula Types
Hula Ali`i (Dance for chief or monarch)
Hula Ipu (Dance with hollow gourd)

Related Chants
E Manono (O Manono)

Related Küpuna
Beamer, Nona Kapuailohiamanonokalani Desha
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