EGYPT 493 – The SISTRUM – (by Egyptahotep)



Almost all cultures in the world created some kind of music instruments to shake,to rattle or to roll.  Also in Ancient Egypt.
In ancient Egypt there was a special kind of hand-held rattle called a sistrum. Mainly Played by women, it was moved from side to side and the bangles would rock back and forth creating a beautiful sound and a fascinating rhythm.
one of the main cult objects associated with Hathor was this musical rattle named sistrum,.
The sound of the sistrum is metallic, produced by a number of metal disks or squares, strung onto a set of transverse bars, set horizontally into a frame of varying design. Its sound was thought to echo that of a stem of papyrus being shaken. However, the acoustic effects were frequently extremely limited. The sistrum was ideal for beating a rhythmical accompaniment in open air processions. The sound of the instrument seems to have been regarded as protective and also symbolic of divine blessing and the concept of rebirth. In addition to the symbolic significance of its sound, the shape and decoration of the sistrum relate it to the divine.
Two forms of this ceremonial instrument may be distinguished, the oldest of which is probably the naos sistrum . While Hathor’s head was often depicted on the handles of sistrum, an early travertine sistrum inscribed with the name of the 6th Dynasty ruler, Teti, takes the form of a papyrus topped by a naos, which is itself surmounted by a falcon and cobra, thus forming a rebus of the name Hathor . Thus, the sistrum known as the naos sistrum dates back to at least the Old Kingdom. It was usually crowned by twin heads of Hathor upon which a small shrine or naos-shaped box was set. A vulture may crown the naos, and the handle may be covered with the incised plumage of the bird. Rods were passed through the sides of this naos to form the rattle. Carved or affixed spirals framing the sides of the naos represented the horns of the cow eared goddess. this earliest form of sistrum was often made of faience.

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