Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Ipu Hokiokio

19th century
Hawai'i, United States
Native American (Hawaiian)
L.: 6.2 cm (2-5/16 in.); Max. diam.: 4.5 cm (1-3/4 in.)
Aerophone-Blow Hole-end-blown flute (vertical)
Credit Line:
The Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments, 1889
Accession Number:
Not on view
In former times the Hawaiians created whistles typically fashioned, as here, from small, roughly pear-shaped gourds that were specially cultivated or, occasionally, from the shells of large nuts. The whistles, variously called ipu hokiokio, pu'a, or ipu hoehoe, were played with the nose by holding one nostril closed and blowing with the other into a small hole bored in the narrow upper portion of the gourd. A series of finger holes, made in the main body of the instrument, allowed the musician to play tunes consisting of several notes. With soft, pleasing tones ipu hokiokio were personal instruments played in intimate settings. Reportedly played by lovers to entertain each other in the calm of the evening the ipu hokiokio was sometimes described as "he mea ho'oipoipo" (a thing for love making).
Mary Elizabeth Adams Brown
Catalogue of the Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments: Oceanica and America. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1913, vol. II, pg. 48, ill.

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