Puniu - Hawaiian Knee Drum



Applying the kukui nut oil to the coconut shell. Further polishing to produce a glossy sheen can be done by applying a few drops of kukui nut oil to a tapa cloth and rubbing vigorously over the outer surface of the coconut shell.


Materials for the lower ring (left to right) - tapa bark cloth from the wauke (paper mulberry) plant, sample of hau fibers, two-ply coconut fiber cordage wound into a donut shape 4 times and lashed with hau cordage, sample of coconut husk fibers.


Traditionally, the lashings for the membrane were made from the olona plant. Due to the unavailability of olona cordage ('aha), I substituted dogbane cordage for the lashing material.


Twisting the dogbane fibers into a 2-ply cordage.


Wrapping the tapa bark cloth around the coconut fiber ring. Hau cordage was wound around the coconut cordage to hold the shape of the ring.


Punching holes in the shark skin membrane for the dogbane lashings with a kui iwi (bone awl).


The shark skin membrane was lashed to the lower ring onto the coconut shell with the dogbane cordage.


The finished puniu minus the braided cords and the drum beater.



A version of the gourd puniu, showing the braided cords and the drum beater. Contemporary materials were used for the cordage and goat skin was used as the membrane.


Watch a YouTube video of Halau Hula Olana performing a hula dance using the puniu at the Merrie Monarch Festival (2004).

View a YouTube video of the Academy of the Hawaiian Arts competing at the Merrie Monarch Festival (2006) playing the puniu.

Access the YouTube video link of Hâlau O Kamuela at the 2011 Merrie Monarch Festival performing with the puniu.


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E-mail your comments to "Dino Labiste" at KahikoArts@yahoo.com

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