• Hula is a native Hawaiian dance. In this video from the National Geographic Channel, dancers and historians explain the origins and development of hula.
    • Birth of the Hula (start-0:45)
    • Hula is Banned (0:46-1:10)
    • Rebirth of Hula (1:11-1:45)
    • Making Hula Relevant to a Modern Audience (1:46-2:08)
    • Merrie Monarch Festival (2:09-2:50)
    Consult our “Fast Facts” to better understand the history of hula, and “Vocabulary” to sort out your mele from your macadamia nuts.
    • Hula instructor Emily Kau’i Zuttermeister tells a story about the birth of hula. (0:30) The woman Zuttermeister mentions, who went down to the beach and imitated the motion of the waves, was Hi’iaka. Hi’iaka was no ordinary woman—she was the sister of Hawaii’s legendary fire goddess, Pele. Hi’iaka is the goddess of the stormy clouds produced by her sister’s volcanoes.
    • The video spotlights the Merrie Monarch Festival, which honors a legendary king who returned hula to “its rightful place at the center of Hawaiian culture.” (2:20) This was King David Kalakaua, who encouraged a revival of many Hawaiian cultural traditions, including surfing and the martial art of lua, during his reign from 1874-1891. King David Kalakaua’s nickname was “the merry (or merrie) monarch.”

    • Hula master Kumano Palani Kuala encourages his students to make a connection between hula and indigenous spirituality. (1:48) Ancient Hawaiians also held hula sacred. The traditional goddess of the hula is Laka, and many ancient hulas were performed in her honor.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    ‘auana adjective, noun

    modern style of hula, which developed with the influence of European culture in Hawaii during the 19th and 20th centuries.

    halau Noun

    hula school, or a long house traditionally used for hula instruction.

    haumana Noun

    hula student.

    hula adjective, noun

    native Hawaiian dance, often accompanied by drumming or chanting.

    'ili 'ili Plural Noun

    smooth stones that are clicked together in traditional Hawaiian dancing.

    ipu Noun

    hollowed-out gourd used for traditional Hawaiian dancing.

    ipu heke Noun

    two hollowed-out gourds, one secured on top of the other, used for traditional Hawaiian chanting.

    kahiko adjective, noun

    ancient style of hula, which developed in the Hawaiian Islands before European contact in the 19th century.

    kala'au Plural Noun

    wooden sticks used for traditional Hawaiian dancing.

    kapa adjective, noun

    cloth made by pounding the bark of a paper mulberry or similar tree until it is flat and flexible.

    kumu Noun

    hula teacher.

    lei Noun

    native Hawaiian necklace of flowers, shells, feathers, or leaves.

    lu'au Noun

    Hawaiian feast.

    macadamia nut Noun

    edible, round, hard-shelled seed of the tropical macadamia tree, native to Australia.

    malo Noun

    traditional loincloth, or fabric draped around the hips, worn by Hawaiian men.

    mele Noun

    traditional Hawaiian song.

    'olapa Plural Noun

    expert hula dancers.

    oli Noun

    traditional Hawaiian chant.

    pau Noun

    traditional Hawaiian wrapped skirt.

    Polynesia Noun

    island group in the Pacific Ocean between New Zealand, Hawaii, and Easter Island.

    pu'ili Plural Noun

    bamboo sticks used in hula and traditional Hawaiian chant performances.

    'uli 'uli adjective, plural noun

    gourds filled with seeds and topped with feathers. Used for traditional Hawaiian dances.

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