Friday, October 7, 2011

Hula Kupe'e


In Kaua'i hula, like all aspects of traditional Hawaiian culture, is taken very seriously.  It's not about pretty costumes and elegant moves but about the meaning and purpose behind them. The colors, patterns and style of a dancer's adornments all reflect an aspect of their background and training. For instance, if a dancer is honoring Kane who is symbolized by fresh water, they may wear colors and patterns that imitate water. During the Prince Kuhio Celebration, I was honored to learn how to make kupe'e, which are traditional wrist and ankle adornments that draw attention to graceful hand and feet movements.



The process begins with asking permission from the god of hula before picking the plants. Depending on the hula, there are proper plants that should accompany the song. An array of plants were spread out on a table during the kupe'e workshop. Some plants offer wonderful aromas and some supply sounds. I selected the ones that were easiest to weave into the raffia wristband.


It looks easy but it took me awhile to get the plants to lay in the right direction and provide enough visual interest. Dancers of Hula Kahiko or ancient hula, place a lot of emphasis on kupe'e because their movements are usually more structured, using stiff hands whereas  modern hula or Hula Auana, emphasizes graceful hands.


My finished kape'e made me want to bust a few hula moves but that's a whole other post.

18 comments:

Rose Ragai said...

This is interesting. I only saw it in the movie...

Oneika said...

Very cool, but I am loving your hair in the second pic!

Fly Girl said...

Rose, many people see hula in movies but it really is a fascinating thing in person.

Oneika, thanks. It's my favorite style.

A Cuban In London said...

What a fascinating post. I now remember that I have seen these adornments on the dancers' bodies as their torsos undulate and shake. Many thanks. That was a very good and instructive post. Next, the dance, please! :-)

Greetings from London.

Fly Girl said...

Cubano, Oh I forgot that you're the master dancer! I don't know if my attempts at hula will live up to your standards!

Ekua said...

Very cool that you got to learn how to do this. Yours turned out well!

Fly Girl said...

Ekua, thanks. It didn't look like the professionals but I put a lot of effort into it.

Andrew Graeme Gould said...

Very interesting to learn about this, Rosalind, and I love the photos with those details, and especially the last one. I have yet to visit Hawaii, and although I realise that it would be quite different, I cannot but think of the visits I've made to Tahiti, where I saw their dancing, which was wonderful.

Fly Girl said...

Andrew, Tahitians are ancestors of Hawaiians and many but not all, of the hulas are the same. So you did see some of the culture in Tahiti.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

You did a great effort. I like your picture.

Fly Girl said...

Jean-Luc, thanks!

Paul Kesler said...

Hello there!!

I've been reading your posts recently on your site and they were all quite resourceful. I really enjoyed reading. I was wondering if you're open for guest bloggers, as I can submit one that would definitely be enjoyed by your readers. I also have a website related to yours that might be of interest to your readers as well. I believe that we could help each other's site.


Hope to hear from you soon.


Regards, Paul.

Fly Girl said...

Hi Paul,
Thanks for dropping by. No, I don't do guest bloggers since this is a personal blog but thanks for the offer.

Catherine said...

what a lovely cultural tradition - looks like you had fun learning about it all!! Greetings from the Riviera...

Fly Girl said...

Catherine,
It was fun and my plant weaving skills went up a notch!

Mary R said...

Your kupe'e are really pretty! And I love how they incorporate leaves and inexpensive adornment. There's no need for expensive flowers from a florist! I'm completely inspired right now to decorate my own home with things from my own yard.

By the way, glad to see you're still traveling and writing! i've been out of blogosphere for so long, but I'm back and excited to be reading all my favorites again!

Fly Girl said...

Mary, glad you're back!

Pearl McPride said...

what a beautiful location!