Making music: a priestly occupation

Cantora de Amón Pulse para ampliar Cantora de Amón. Sala 35, vitrina 35.3

Ihé sarcophagus

Ijé was an Egyptian priestess who died around the year 1,000 B.C. The hieroglyphs of her sarcophagus mention her musical abilities. She was a “singer to Ammon”, a priestly office occupied exclusively by women who were tasked with singing, playing instruments and dancing in ceremonies in honor of the god Ammon. They were highly revered in society. As occurs in many other ancient cultures, women played the role of mediators with the gods, particularly through song, the most sublime of the musical arts and a link to the underworld.

In Ancient Egypt, especially during the New Empire, we are aware of the existence of a variety of percussion, wind and string instruments. The harp stands out as a particularly emblematic instrument, which was very well represented through the iconography of the period, appearing mostly in women´s hands and associated with the divine cult. This instrument´s size, shape and number of strings varied considerably over the course of time. Depending on the particular model of the instrument, the minstrel would play it either seated on the ground, standing up or with the instrument resting upon his or her shoulder.