A cuica is what is known as a "friction drum," an instrument with historical roots in Africa, Asia, medieval Europe, and South America. A friction drum has a single head stretched across an open-ended form; the friction necessary to produce its distinctive sound is achieved through manipulation of a membrane, stick, or other form that is attached through the center of the drumhead. To create sound on a friction drum, the player moves the attached membrane up and down through the drumhead. Historically a friction drum held a significant place in specific religious or ceremonial occasions.
As the cuica is a South American friction drum, it figures prominently in the indigenous musical forms, such as samba.
Dr. Turner would have acquired this cuica during his travels in Brazil during the early 1940s.