Also called pu waikaua when used to rally the warriors. The tradition of the pū is ancient, sending out a sound that resonates attention, respect, and significance across the ocean and time.
For countless generations the pū has announced the arrival of canoes, the entrance of ali‘i, and the beginning of protocols. Today, its one-note fanfare is used to start a meeting, bless a home, or call a gathering to order.
The pū can be made from any large gastropod (sea snail) shell by removing or filing down the tip of the shell’s spire at its apex. Most in Hawai‘i are from the long pointed Triton’s Trumpet (Charonia tritonis) and the smaller smoother Helmet Shell (Cassis cornuta). The living snails feed on urchins, starfish, and other creatures.
This depiction of the conch trumpet is carved from Solomon Island kerosene wood (pterocarpus indicus), this piece having some interesting dark swirls in the grain. It is enhanced with mother of pearl inlay and the blow hole is encircled with ebony wood. It rests on an acrylic stand.
For the mother of pearl inlay, the artist cuts a piece of shell to fit the space, then cuts it into tiny pieces, files each one to create the pattern, and then puts each individual piece in place using custom putty.
Marovo Lagoon, Solomon Islands
21”L x 10”W x 6.5”