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Harburg to discuss the art of growing and decorating ipu

Michael Harburg, an artist who cultivates and carves gourds, will discuss his work and exhibit some of his decorated ipu at the North Kohala Public Library at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Aug 5. He will also lead a gourd growing and trellis building workshop at 10 a.m., on Sunday, Aug. 11, at ‘Iole in Kapaau. Both events are free to the public.

Gourds are said to be the world’s first domesticated plants, and are grown across the globe for more than 40 documented uses. In Hawaii, it’s often used as an ipu — a percussion instrument used in hula. To supply hula practitioners today, most ipu are imported to Hawaii from places like California, and are characterized by thick shells, which lack optimal resonance and tone. Harburg, proprietor of Hawi’s new Ipu Kane Gallery, would like to see Kohala become know for cultivating the world’s finest ipu.

Harburg, a master of the Niihau gourd method, recently began working with Peter Risley at ‘Iole to cultivate two varieties of gourds used to construct ipu heke. For more information on the two events, call 889-5151 or visit Harburg at ‘Ipu Kane Gallery in Hawi.