Wood, Sally and Lani Kalama

Kīhei lāua ‘o Māpuana de Silva


Pumpkin and Shmoo
Talking Story with Sally Wood and Lani Kalama

Photo Courtesy of Hālau Hāloa.
Christina Gamayo performs Aunty Sally Wood Naluai’s version of "Eia Mai Au ‘o Makalapua" at a Hālau Hāloa performance in Koror, Palau.

Hula kuolo, also called hula pā ipu, is the form of sitting hula in which the dancer beats the gourd drum, gestures, and chants. Lately it’s become popular for hālau hula to perform hula kuolo with the double gourd known as ipu heke. For some, kuolo with ipu heke may well be a legitimate tradition (in the multi-generational hālau of Mae Loebenstein, for example). For others, the use of over-sized ipu heke reflects a less-than-traditional mindset: it speaks of trend chasing, of ipu envy, of bigger is better, of pālua ka ipu pālua ka mana. For still others -- some have called them "damned traditionalists" -- the ipu heke belongs exclusively to the kumu hula and cannot be used by students; for these hālau, tradition requires that the hula kuolo -- when performed by haumāna -- employ the ipu heke ‘ole, the single, "headless" gourd. 

One such heke ‘ole tradition is attributed to Lōkālia Montgomery by her students Sally Wood Naluai and Kekau‘ilani Kalama.  We recorded the conversation below on April 6, 1989, at the Kahalu‘u home of Sally and George Naluai.  At the time, Aunty Sally and Aunty Nana (Kekau‘ilani) were looking through one of Sally’s photo albums at pictures taken of their 1946 ‘ūniki as kumu hula from Lōkālia.  Nana had just been looking at a picture of her beloved "Shmoo" -- the ipu heke ‘ole that she had used in the same ‘ūniki -- and now Sally calls Nana’s attention to a photo of "Pumpkin," Sally’s own ipu heke ‘ole: 



Sally:          And look at my Pumpkin! Eh, you see the Pumpkin?
Nana:         I know! I'm so happy I saw my Shmoo.
Māpuana: It's not cut or anything, yah? She just gave it to you? [Pumpkin looks exactly like the fruit it's named for: a fat, squat, no-neck, ipu heke ‘ole.] 
Sally:       Yah. Has a little hole [for the fingers to grab it with], that's all. Just grab the ipu and pā.
Māpuana: You never had ipu heke, huh?
Sally:       No.
Nana:      We never used it [ipu heke].
Māpuana: Did Aunty Lōkālia have ipu heke?
Sally:         Yes.
Nana:      Aunty Lōkālia had ipu heke.

Māpuana: But you never used?
Nana:      No. And she always said that you always keep them [the students] with the ipu [heke ‘ole]. All the umpteen ipu that she had [for us], not one was an ipu heke. [Some] had the neck come out like that [she demonstrates]. [Some] had no neck at all. Ugly looking things! Remember? 
Sally:      Ugly!
Nana:     But she used the ipu heke. We only used the ipu [heke ‘ole]. That's why I always said if I were to teach these [hula kuolo], no one would use the ipu heke. Now you see all the ipu heke [used by everyone]. That's how it is. Not everything is the same in every school. 


© Kīhei and Māpuana de Silva 1989