Instruments for the gods

Sistro egipcio Pulse para ampliar Sistro egipcio. Sala 34, vitrina 34.7

Egyptian Sistrum

The sistrum is an instrument made out of a bronze or metal U-shaped frame with a handle, and various movable metal crossbars which, when shaken, clanked against the frame much like a rattle. In addition to producing sound, it repelled insects and curses. It is documented to have existed since the 3rd millennium B.C., associated with the cults to goddesses such as Hathor and Isis. It was considered to offer protection by driving off evil. In Egyptian mythology, Ihy was the god of music. His name meant the player of the sistrum and his music gladdened the hearts of the gods.

In Egyptian culture we are also aware of other percussion instruments used for religious ceremonies, such as finger cymbals, sticks, hand bells or castanet-like tejoletas, including some curious specimens in the shape of a hand. But the musical instrument that is best identified with Ancient Egypt is the sistrum, which later spread to the Greek and Roman world thanks to the cult of the goddess Isis. Female priestesses were mostly responsible for playing these instruments in religious ceremonies.