Ritual Rattle (Sistrum)
Unknown artist, Egyptian
Ritual Rattle (Sistrum), 664-525 BCE
Height: 19 cm (7 1/2 inches)
Helen M. Danforth Acquisition Fund 1995.050
The cow-eared faces on both sides of this ritual rattle represent the deity Hathor. She was one of ancient Egypt’s most important mother goddesses, first worshiped in the form of a cow. A priestess or even a king used such rattles to entertain or soothe Hathor, goddess of love, music, and fertility. When shaken, disks strung on rods fitted through holes in the rattle’s open headpiece produced a sound resembling the rustling of the breeze blowing through tall grasses or reeds. This rattle would have had a long handle, now lost.