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Rain Sticks

10/01/2017 5:30 pm
River Hall - 901 E. Swallow Rd. Fort Collins, CO

How to find us: Pass through the gate on western (garage) side of house then enter through the yellow door into River Hall.

This evening’s craft could be a good one for the whole family! We will craft our own rain sticks out of paper tubes, beans and tin foil.

“Rainsticks have become a very popular novelty musical instrument in the last 30 years. Stories concerning the origin of the rainstick are numerous. Some say that the instrument was invented by the Aztecs, and that it later spread throughout Central and South America. This is probably not the case, since rainsticks are not found archaeologically or in Spanish accounts. Furthermore, the Aztec Empire (destroyed by the Spanish in 1521) was short-lived and came late in the history of the Americas. It is more likely, as reported by some musicians from Mexico who recall the event, that the rainstick was introduced into popular Mexican music (notably in the area around Cuernavaca) sometime in the 1960s.

It seems more likely that the origins of the rainstick as a musical instrument is the stick or tubular rattle. Researchers at the turn of the century describe tubular rattles very similar to the rainstick which were made and used by the Cuna of Panama; the Colorado of Ecuador; the Macushí, Uachmiri, and Yauapery of northern Amazonia; and the Huichol of northern Mexico. There are also wooden stick rattles filled with seeds or pebbles found archaeologically along the coast of Peru, but it is not clear whether these date from the Inca period or earlier (6000 B.C.- A.D. 1500).

There is some speculation that the thorns or needles piercing the tubular rattle is an idea introduced by enslaved African peoples. Tubular rattles, pierced with iron nails, are common in West Africa, especially among the Togo and Pangwe (the sources of many of the slaves of the Americas). As early as 1619, 50% of the 60,000 inhabitants of Lima, Peru, were enslaved people from West Africa. It is likely that the indigenous peoples of South America, especially the hunters-gatherers of the upper Amazon and the farmers of northern Chile and Argentina, would have come in contact with the slaves beginning around 1537 because of trade routes running through these areas. The indigenous people could easily have adopted the idea of piercing the tubular rattle with thorns to create a new sound and instrument. Four hundred years of use in South America could easily have obscured the origin of the instrument.”

To ensure that we have enough supplies for everyone, please RSVP as soon as you are able.

Please bring a dish and/or beverage to share in our potluck feast. All dishes, utensils and drinking water are provided at the River Hall.

Please keep in mind that donations, whether monetary or in the form of toilet paper, incense and firewood, are always welcome. Donations to offset the cost of the craft supplies are always welcome, but not required for participation. Supplies that will support this or a future craft also make a great donation. Another alternative could be a donation of time spent caring for our Hall or Sanctuary.

If you want to volunteer, or have any questions/concerns, please feel free to contact the Council. Blessings!