Definition and background:
Latin American percussion instruments that consist of a gourd with dried seeds inside it and a handle with which to shake it. Maracas are played in pairs and their use is not limited to that of Latin American music. percussion instrument of Latin American origin. A maraca is a gourd filled with seeds or beads that rattles when shaken. Maracas are usually played in pairs
A hollowed out gourd on a stick (rattle). Usually filled with seeds or pebbles. Another simply designed instrument but capable of many different types of sounds through various skillful techniques used by the drummer.
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Wikipedia - Glossary of Musical Terminology
Virginia Tech Multimedia Music Dictionary
ORB -- Medieval Music Glossary