The term macana, of Taíno origin, refers to various wooden weapons used by the various native cultures of Central and South America.
The earliest meaning attributed to macana is a sword-like weapon made out of wood, but still sharp enough to be dangerous. Peter Martyr d'Anghiera, Decades de Orbe Novo (written in the early 16th century):
- Cominus hi certant vt plurimum, ensibus oblongis, quos macanas ipsi appellant, ligneis tamen, quia ferrum non assequuntur...
- armatum ... arcubus putà & sagittis, machanísque, id est, ensibus amplis, ligneis, oblongis, vtráque manu agitandis...
The Inca army also made use of a 'macana spear'. It consisted of a wooden shaft with a heavy metal or stone object at the end. This object was often in a star shape, to maximise the potential to break bone. They were the most common weapon in the Inca arsenal, and it is possible that gold or silver was used for the star for high-ranking officers.
In modern Spanish the word has broadened to refer to various types of blunt wooden weapons, especially a police nightstick.