Arched Sistrum

Arched Sistrum

380-343 BC

Bronze, hollow cast

Overall: 21.4 x 5.3 cm (8 7/16 x 2 1/16 in.)

Gift of the John Huntington Art and Polytechnic Trust 1920.1990



A sistrum is a musical rattle. Metal disks strung on wires along the arched upper end of the sistrum produced a rustling sound that was supposed to have a calming effect on the nerves of various deities, especially the goddesses Hathor and Bastet. Appropriately, this example is decorated with a Hathor head (a woman with cow’s ears) and a cat (the image of Bastet). These instruments are particularly associated with women, who played them as members of a temple choir.

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