Friday, October 7, 2011
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.