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Make an Egyptian Sistrum

Abu_Simbel_Nefartari_Sistrum-2

Have you ever noticed that Egyptian Goddesses sometimes hold this funny looking object? It turns out that it is something called a sistrum, which not only looks beautiful, but makes a sound too. It was first used in Ancient Egypt and could be made of wood, pottery or bronze. The loop at the end has thin metal rods strung across it from which beads or metal strips were threaded. These would slide against each other when the sistrum was shaken to make a sound just like a rattle.

It is thought to have been used in religious ceremonies and was associated with the Goddess Hathor. Perhaps it played a rhythm to accompany a sacred chant, or made a noise to scare away evil spirits. In some Ethiopian churches, sistrum’s are still used by priests today.

We have made our own version here. It might require a bit of pre-planning or rummaging through the recycling to find some things to make the jangles.

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You will need:

  • some stiff cardboard
  • some flexible thin cardboard (an old cereal box is ideal)
  • glue, scissors
  • gold paint
  • pipecleaners or thin metal wire
  • jangly things – we used cheap valtrex some bells from the craft shop and some buttons.
  • sistrum4

Cut out two handles from the thick cardboard and stick them together to make the handle stronger.

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Cut out a long thin strip from the flexible card. Make a slit at both ends so that it will slot onto the sticking out bits on the handle. Check that it will make a loop. Carefully make a couple of small holes in the both sides of the strip.  Thread a pipe cleaner or a piece of wire through a hole on one side and fix it in place with some sticky tape. Thread your jangly things onto the wire and then  put it through the holes on the other side. Tape them in place too.

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You can spray the whole thing gold if you fancy or just get playing. Ours sounded very different – one jingly and one sort of clackety. I love the idea that we could recreate the sounds that once played in Ancient Egypt. I would love to hear what the original ones sounded like, wouldn’t you?

 

Comments

  1. Evelyn Ayres says:

    Muy interesante e instructivo, gracias.

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