Origins of the Ukulele

The ukulele, often considered the quintessential Hawaiian instrument, actually originated from a Portuguese stringed instrument called the cavaquinho. Brought over by Portuguese laborers and skilled craftsman in the 1800’s, the instrument quickly became popular among the local Hawaiians, who dubbed the instrument “ukulele,” meaning “jumping flea.” King Kalakaua was an ardent supporter of the instrument, learning how to play and commissioning ukuleles made with local koa wood.

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By Unknown (“a resident of the island”, published by R. Ackermann, London) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons