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Hula Pahu: Hawaiian Drum Dances



Adrienne Kaeppler analyzes dance movements and explains their evolution from early haʻa (ritual) traditions. She accounts for the sacred nature of hula pahu by placing its origin in ritual worship of the “state gods” of the Hawaiian religion. Kaeppler believes that the chants and movements that once honored the gods, or akua, were transferred, after the arrival of Christian missionaries, to rituals honoring the surviving ancestral gods. The author identifies three major traditions of hula pahu, discusses their chief practitioners, and describes how these traditions were transmitted from generation to generation. Her dance descriptions are supported by Labanotation scores (movement notation) that allow deeper analysis than usually encountered in cultural studies of dance.