The pandeiro (tambourine), in its various forms, is a membranophone instrument that has been present in a number of European, Asian and African cultures for thousands of years. Depending on its origin, it is used for musical or ritualistic purposes, and may be known by the names pandeireta , adufe, tamborim or pandeirola, among others.
The predecessor of the Brazilian pandeiro was a square drum with a two-panel frame, which belonged to the adufe in Spain and Portugal, which, in turn, comes from an Arabic or Moorish instrument still found in North Africa.
The term pandeiro or pandero is still used in Galicia and Portugal for this square-shaped drum, whereas the round drum with bells would be called a pandeira in Galicia.
In colonial Brazil, the Luso-Arabic pandeiro was adopted by the black population to complement or substitute their ritualistic instruments when these were unavailable or prohibited by their masters, because it was easy to carry around and disguise as a European instrument.
Over time, the pandeiro became an essential element of capoeira, samba de roda, coco and many other Afro-Brazilian performance-musical traditions, but it was made most famous and showed itself to be most versatile in the samba of Rio de Janeiro, and at the end of the nineteenth century, when it gave the final touch to that remarkable rhythm.