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Sistrum (Rattle)

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

On View: Egyptian Orientation Gallery, 3rd Floor
The human face with cow’s ears and horns on the sistrum’s handle represents the goddess Hathor, who personifies heaven and motherhood. The pairs of holes originally held rods with metal disks or squares that produced sound when shaken. Egyptian myths suggest that enraged gods and goddesses became pacified at hearing the sounds of the sistrum. As a symbol of Hathor appeased, the sistrum came to be used in rituals and ceremonies for Hathor, Bastet, and other deities.
  • Place Made: Egypt
  • DATES 332–30 B.C.E.
    PERIOD Ptolemaic Period
    DIMENSIONS 10 3/16 x 2 11/16 x 1 5/16 in. (25.9 x 6.9 x 3.4 cm)  (show scale)
    CREDIT LINE Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Bronze sistrum. The terminal of the handle s in the form of a double Hathor head (human-face, cow's ears but no wig). The loop has three pairs of holes for insertion of the elements which actually rattle but only one of these elements is actually preserved (in the central pair of holes). Condition: Once broken in half at bottom of Hathor head but since rejoined. Holes and cracks in shaft; dark patina in spots. Surface on top of head corroded.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Egyptian Orientation Gallery, 3rd Floor
    CAPTION Sistrum (Rattle), 332–30 B.C.E. Bronze, 10 3/16 x 2 11/16 x 1 5/16 in. (25.9 x 6.9 x 3.4 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 37.583E. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 37.583E_view01_PS11.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 37.583E_view01_PS11.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2022
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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