HONOLULU (KHON2) — We all make use of our island roadways, but when was the last time you paid attention to their given names?  

Did you know you could learn more about Hawaiʻi and our culture if you did? 

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Our weekly “Aloha Authentic” segment highlights various streets across the islands so we can dig into those names, and in turn, learn something new. 

This week, we bring attention to an implement in the art of hula

In the ahupuaʻa of Hanapēpē, which lies in the moku of Kona on the island of Kauaʻi, stands a short roadway that holds a name that could mean a couple different things.   

We are talking about Uliuli Rd. 

In Hawaiian language, the diacriticals (which are the ʻokina and kahakō markers), change the meanings of words. 

For example, uliuli without any diacriticals can refer to any dark color.   

But ʻulīʻulī with the diacriticals refer to the rattling gourd used by hula dancers. 

This implement is made with a hollowed-out gourd known as laʻamia then filled with seeds to make the rattling noise when shaken. 

Today, you will see this hand-held implement used quite frequent in hula ʻauana or modern hula, decorated with bright and colorful feathers to match the energy of the music and hula

However, in old Hawaiʻi, this was used in hula kahiko or the traditional hula and to some, even considered the most sacred hula implement. 

According to the late hula master Joseph ʻĪlālāʻole, the ʻulīʻulī is the most sacred implement as it is the only one used to awaken Pele, the deity of volcano and fire in Hawaiian stories.   

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But, like all Hawaiian stories, others may look at the ʻulīʻulī differently depending on what they were taught by their teachers. 

Did you know?  Now you do!