GAA's Ipu Heke




An Ipu Heke is a traditional Hawaiian drum. It is made from a pair of gourds. It is used in hula. I built this ipu at a one day workshop held at the Caning Shop in Berkeley, CA.

The Ipu Making Workshop

The building processing is pretty straightforward. The process is detailed in the book How to Make Hawaiian Instruments (see Resources section below). We started with raw gourds. We cleaned them, cut them, scraped the insides and glued them together. We make a cord out of braided fabric to put around the neck. After I brought it home I put a coat of carnauba wax on it to polish and protect it.

It was a very good class. The teacher was an experience ipu maker who definitely has the Hawaiian spirit and was respectful of the fact that he's part of a long oral tradition of ipu making. Almost everyone had a finished ipu by the end of the day.

Often when you "build-it-yourself" it ends up costing you more than if you just bought the item. However, in this case the cost of the workshop was about the same as what you'd pay to buy an ipu.


Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or comments.

4/18/06 - initial version