Ancient Hawaiian Drum - ipu

Ipu - Ancient Hawaiian Drum


Ipu is a gourd drum, which is one of the ancient Hawaiian instruments.

Ipu means gourd in the Native Hawaiian language. It is said that gourds are one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world. The plant itself was brought from Polynesian voyagers when they crossed the ocean. In Hawaii, it was used for fishhooks, containers for thread storage, Kapa-dye storage, jugs, tableware, etc. At the sacred temple called Heiau, Ipu was used for the legs of the offering table to protect those offerings from rats. It is also said that fishermen hit the surface of the water with ipu to surprise sharks and avoid them.
When you hear ipu on the hula dance performance or stage, it refers to these gourd instruments. Ipu has a very important role for the traditional style of Hula, called Hula Kahiko, to give the beat to the performance and almost always used for Hula Kahiko.

There are roughly two types;
one is ipu heke and the other is ipu heke 'ole.
Hula Kahiko with Ipu Heke
Hula Kahiko with Ipu Heke / Location: Hilo, Hawaii Island
Credit: Island of Hawaii Visitors Bureau (IHVB) - Lehua Waipa AhNee

  • Ipu heke
    Ipu heke is a combination of two gourds. Heke means upper, and Ipu heke means "Ipu that has another ipu on the top". Wrap a string or cloth around the joint part between the two gourds, and wrap the tip of the string or cloth around your wrist when you use it. Hit the side of the gourd or against the ground to make a sound. Many of them are quite large, and used by the accompaniment. It is also used for the Hawaiian chants without dance called oli.

    ipu heke ole
    Ipu heke ‘ole


  • Ipu heke 'ole
    Ipu heke 'ole
    is an Ipu made from one gourd. Ole means No in Hawaiian, so Ipu heke ole means "Ipu that has no upper part". In general terms for ipu, it means this one-gourd type. There are variations in size and shape, and they are used by not only accompaniment but also by dancers sometimes.

Check the Hawaiian Fabrics with Ipu on Muumuu Outlet!

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