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Arched Harp (shoulder harp)

Period:
New Kingdom
Dynasty:
Dynasty 18, late
Date:
ca. 1390–1295 B.C.
Geography:
From Egypt
Medium:
Wood
Dimensions:
L. (diagonally) 82 cm (32 5/16 in); l. of sound box 36 cm (14 3/16 in)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1943
Accession Number:
43.2.1
  • Description

    Egyptian arched harps from Dynasty 4 onward coexisted with a great variety of harps in different shapes and sizes. Two harp types were most common—the arched harp with a curved neck, like this one, and the angled harp with a neck sharply perpendicular to the body. Unlike most European versions, ancient Egyptian harps have no forepillars to strengthen and support the neck. Older forms of arched harps had four or five strings, this harp has twelve strings. Skin once covered the open, slightly waisted sound box. Rope tuning rings under each string gave a buzzing sound to the soft-sounding tone produced. Topping the arched frame of the harp is a carved human head.
    A female or male musician who sang to her or his own accompaniment with a stringed instrument was termed a hesyt or hesou, and might appear in most any social spheres – at palace banquets, religious rituals, funerals, and private or village festivities.

  • Provenance

    Purchased from Joseph Brummer Gallery, New York, 1947. Purchased by Brummer from Frank Tano, 1942.

  • See also
    What
    Where
    When
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
    MetPublications
546194

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