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Castanets ('Ili'Ili), Hawaii, mid-20th century
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NMM 1803. Castanets (‘ili‘ili), Hawaii, mid-20th century. Two pairs of round, flat stones (basaltic lava). Played by hula dancers with two stones in each hand. ‘Ili‘ili are very personal instruments, as their size is chosen to fit the player’s hands. Prior to the introduction of the guitar and ukulele into Hawaiian music (early 1880s), most instruments used to accompany traditional hulas were percussive. Thus, the main function of the ‘ili‘ili, like other traditional Hawaiian instruments, is to help the dancer maintain the beat. Gift of Linda Hansen Solheim, Estherville, Iowa, 1977.
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