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Hawaiian Puniu - Coconut Knee Drum


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Traditionally, in ancient times, the puniu was played with the pahu to accompany the hula. The puniu produces a high pitched sound when struck. In the seated position, the chanter or drummer would tie the puniu to the thigh and strike the drum in alternating and contrasting beats with the deep sounding pahu.

The puniu is made of a large polished coconut shell. The top portion of the shell is removed to produce a "cup" shape. This forms the resonant chamber. From there, the coconut shell is cleaned out using the opihi shell and sanded inside and out. A ring of kapa or sennit is placed on the base to provide cushioning and stability. The drum head is covered by a tightly stretched durable skin of the kala, or scaleless fish.

Cords pass from the edges of the drum head to the ring-shaped cushion to hold the skin taut. To make the high pitched sound, a ka was made. This ka (approx. 6-8") is a knotted sennit or leaf braid usually long enough to comfortably hold onto and strike the drum while in the seated position.

Puniu is approximately 3" high and 5" in diameter. Ka is included. Each puniu is a work of art and each is unique.