Chapchas are a truly unique rattle that originated in the Andes of South America. Made from the discarded hooves of goats or sheep strung onto a bracelet, this instrument is heard in much of the folk music of Bolivia, Peru, Chile, Ecuador and other countries of this region.
How are chapchas made? After the hooves are clipped and boiled to sterilize them, a needle is inserted into the upper part of the nails making a small hole. The hooves are then strung or sewn onto a colorful piece of fabric and each one of the dried hooves rattles against the others creating the sound of the instrument.
Why do Andean people use these unusual items as part of their musical instruments? The answer is simple. If you visit some of the remote villages in the high Andes, you’ll see that there are a minimum number of plants, no trees and few other materials that can be used to create instruments. Essentially everything is used, recycled or reused as part of lifestyle in the high mountains. And that includes the toenails of goats!
Although all cultures in the world make music, learning about unique instruments like the chapchas can be a great way to explore world cultures through music. You can hear chapchas as part of DARIA’s latest album of songs from the Andes and you can also color an image of this unique rattle at the link below.
Resources And Links
Free Chapchas Coloring Page from Teachers Pay Teachers:
Cancioncitas De Los Andes / Little Songs Of The Andes On Itunes
Cancioncitas De Los Andes / Little Songs Of The Andes on Amazon mp3
You can buy fair trade chapchas from Bolivia in DARIA’s Little Village Store: