Egypt, Romano-Egyptian period, ca. 30 BCE to 2nd century CE. A lovely example of a bronze sistrum handle with rich decoration, featuring a long cylindrical column for gripping that rises to meet a double Hathor head complete with a relief face and elaborate wig. Perched atop her head is the ornate support for the rest of the instrument, which would have once towered above her. Hathor, associated with the goddess Isis in the Romano-Egyptian period, was considered the primeval goddess from which all others derived. Size: 2.1" W x 5.25" H (5.3 cm x 13.3 cm); 5.3" H (13.5 cm) on included custom stand.
The sistrum, meaning "that which is being shaken" in Greek, is a percussive musical instrument, known mostly from ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. When shaken, the metal rods within the arch produce a sound that can range from a soft clank to a loud jangling. Some people even hear a sound complementary to that of a hissing snake when the sistrum is played. The sistrum was particularly important for the Egyptian worship of the goddesses Hathor and Bastet. You can imagine priestesses playing these, singing, while processing into a temple built to worship these powerful goddesses.
Provenance: private collection, Beaverton, Oregon, USA, acquired between 2007 to 2009; ex-Tom Cederlind collection, Numismatics & Antiquities, Portland, Oregon, USA, before 2009
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Handle is repaired from multiple pieces, mainly near the bottom of the piece, and has some small losses along the repair lines. Upper part of the instrument is lost. Nice patina and deposits on surface, with form well preserved.