A maraca (pronunciation (help·info)), sometimes called rumba shaker or chac-chac, is a rattle which appears in many genres of Caribbean and Latin music. It is shaken by a handle and usually played as part of a pair.
(Shaken idiophones or rattles)
Maracas (from Guaraní mbaracás), also known as tamaracas, were rattles of divination, an oracle of the Brazilian Tupinamba indigenous, found also with other native tribes, such as the Guarani, Orinoco and in Florida. Rattles made from Lagenaria gourds are being shaken by the natural grip, while the round Crescentia calabash fruits are fitted to a handle. Human hair is sometimes fastened on the top, and a slit is cut in it to represent a mouth, through which their shamans (payes) made it utter its responses. A few pebbles are inserted to make it rattle and it is crowned with the red feathers of the guarás (scarlet ibis). Every man had his maraca. It was used at their dances and to heal the sick. Andean curanderos (healers) use maracas in their healing rites.
The manufacturer Latin Percussion produces a very popular maracas design type with plastic balls and a very rough filling (LP 281). Some other companies have copied them. These maracas are very loud and are also perfect as a toy musical instrument, e. g. in the music education for young children.
A maraca player in Spanish is a maraquero.