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African Rainstick History

Updated April 17, 2017

Rainsticks are instruments that imitate the sound of falling rain. It is used by some cultures to celebrate rain. Rainsticks originated before recorded history. Therefore, theories of where the instrument originated abound. One of the stronger theories is that the instrument originated in Africa.

African Connection

Tubular rattles that are pierced with iron nails, creating a sound similar to that made by rainsticks have been made from gourds in West Africa for centuries, particularly by the Togo and Pangwe people,

Support for African Connection

By the end of the 1500s nearly half of the population of Lima, Peru, was African slaves, and it would stay that way in Lima and in many Andean cities for 100 years, according to "The Atlantic Slave Trade," by Herbert S. Klein. Many of these slaves came from the west African Togo and Pangwe, according to online resource Native Village.

Connection to Chile

Rainsticks are used by the Diaguita Indians of Chile, an area in need of rain, as it is among the driest in the world. In fact, modern rainsticks are made from the dead stalks of cacti by the Diaguita today, with the needles pressed inward to serve as baffles for pebbles inserted into the hollow cacti However, no evidence of rainsticks exists in early accounts of the Diaguita people.

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About the Author

Vivian Gomez contributes to Retailing Today, the Daily Puppy, Paw Nation and other websites. She's covered the New York Comic Con for NonProductive since 2009 and writes about everything from responsible pet ownership to comic books to the manner in which smart phones are changing the way people shop. Gomez received her Bachelor of Arts in English literature from Pace University.