History of the Cajon:

Cajón is the Spanish word for “box”

The cajón is the most widely used Afro-Peruvian musical instrument since the late 18th century.
Slaves of west and central African origin in the Americas, specifically Peru, are considered to be the source of the cajón drum; though the instrument is common in musical performance throughout the Americas.

Knowing that the cajón comes from slave musicians in the Spanish colonial Americas, there are two complementary origin theories for the instrument. It is possible that the drum is a direct descendant of a number of boxlike musical instruments from west and central Africa, especially Angola, and the Antilles. These instruments were adapted by Peruvian slaves from the Spanish shipping crates at their disposal. In port cities like Matanzas, Cuba they used cod-fish shipping crates. Elsewhere, small dresser drawers became instruments.

Another theory posits that slaves simply used boxes as musical instruments to combat contemporary Spanish colonial bans on music in predominantly African areas. In this way, cajones could easily be disguised as seats or stools, thus avoiding identification as musical instruments. In all likelihood it is a combination of these factors – African origins and Spanish suppression of slave music – that led to the cajón’s creation.
Early usage of the Peruvian cajón was to accompany Tondero and Zamacueca (old version of Marinera) dances.

In contemporary times, the instrument became an integral part of Peruvian music and Cuban music. In Cuba, it is known as a Cuban box drum that was originally used to play Rumba Yambu and now incorporated into many other styles. The bass box drum is large enough to sit on and is played with the palm, fist and fingers. It was originally a crate from shipping cod fish in Havana. The middle drum is played with spoons and was originally a box from church candles. The solo drum started as a desk drawer but has evolved into a specialized box made for this purpose. A more recent contribution to the cajón family is a tall, tapered box resembling a square ashiko. Another is the “Batajon ” an innovative cajón invented by Fat Congas of Santa Barbara, with two heads like a Batá drum.
In the 1970s, Peruvian composer and cajón master Caitro Soto gave a cajón as a present to Spanish guitarist Paco de Lucía during one of his visits to Peru. De Lucía liked the sounds of this instrument so much that before leaving the country he bought a second cajón. Later he introduced the cajón to flamenco music.