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Preserving a Rare Tradition

Hula society holds Molokai workshop

Over 30 Molokai residents moved in a huge, swaying circle, blowing air through one nostril into a bamboo flute. There were learning an ancient form of hula – the `ohe hano ihu, or nose flute. The Hula Preservation Society (HPS) in collaboration with Oahu’s Hakipu`u Learning Center held the workshop last Saturday as part of their effort to preserve the first hula and demonstrate hula implements rarely seen today.

Participants each made a nose flute and learned the basics of playing, along with its accompanying hula, pictured above.

Showing grace and adaptability, a group of 10 youth demonstrated various forms of rare hula. Normally, dancers learn from one kumu in one style, but in order to preserve a wide variety of traditions, these students learned to be adaptable.

It is said that King Kalakau`a, who reigned in the late 1800s and was responsible for revival of hula, created the papa hehi after a trip around the world. He was inspired by seeing the treadle of a sewing machine, according to Iwalani Kalima, a kumu hula of Hilo who taught the students some of the rare forms.

“It’s so wonderful to be able to keep the legacy,” she said.

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