Ann is also the author a really nice manual entitled "How to Play the Ipu". Here is a brief excerpt from that manual, entitled "Ipu Etiquette".
Ipu etiquette has grown out of the Hawaiian respect for all items associated with the hula's origins as a sometimes ceremonial accompaniment to religious or important rituals. All hula implements are placed into position carefully, never shoved or pushed across a floor or other surface. If you are kneeling on the floor with your ipu, you should rise up and carry it to its next place.
Stories of the gourd's great importance appear in Hawaiian myths and legends as far back as the Kumulipo (creation and genealogy chant.) Gourds served a multiplicity of uses in Hawaii, where the land lacks clay for pottery and iron for metal. Superstition and magical thinking accompanied the gourd from seed to harvest, in the efforts to ensure the proper growth and shape of this rare and fragile crop.
Some ipu etiquette beliefs are not universal to all hula halaus, but are incorporated within an individual halau's tradition. For instance, we are taught to hold the ipu upright, that it should not be inverted or tipped down past the horizontal, or else "the knowledge will fall out." There is a saying that a learned person is called "Ka ipu o ka 'ike" = "A container of knowledge."
In addition to their wonderful gourd drums, The Gourd Connection also produces many decorative gourds which are featured at many craft fairs in and around San Diego. They are popular choices for Christmas gifts. If you would like more information about decorative gourds, gourd drums, or are interested in obtaining a drum or obtaining instruction manuals or cassettes, give Anne a call or drop her an e-mail. I would like to thank Anne for contributing this feature.
The material and photos in this article are provided and used with the permission of Anne Blankenship of The Gourd Connection, 3210 Garrison St., San Diego, CA 92106-2110. Phone (619) 224-3301. Anne can also be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.