Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Pair of clappers

Middle Kingdom
Dynasty 12, mid - Dynasty 13
ca. 1900–1640 B.C.
From Egypt, Memphite Region, Lisht North, cemetery south of pyramid below House A1:1, Pit 885, MMA excavations, 1920–21
Hippopotamus ivory
a: L. 17.3 × W. 2.8 × Th. 0.7 cm (6 13/16 × 1 1/8 × 1/4 in.); b: L. 14.3 × W. 2.8 × Th. 0.8 cm (5 5/8 × 1 1/8 × 5/16 in.)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund and Edward S. Harkness Gift, 1922
Accession Number:
22.1.143a, b
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 113
Clappers are among the earliest percussion instruments found in ancient Egypt. This set, shaped like a pair of hands and forearms, belongs to a type that was most common in the Middle Kingdom. Clappers were frequently used in musical performances held during banquets and religious rituals. The instruments marked rhythm, like castanets, and substituted for or complemented hand clapping.
Excavated by the Egyptian Expedition of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Acquired by the Museum in the division of finds.

Hayes, William C. 1953. Scepter of Egypt I: A Background for the Study of the Egyptian Antiquities in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Part I: From the Earliest Times to the End of the Middle Kingdom. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 247-248.

Stünkel, Isabel 2015. "Pair of Clappers." In Ancient Egypt Transformed: The Middle Kingdom, edited by Adela Oppenheim, Dorothea Arnold, Dieter Arnold, and Kei Yamamoto. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 105, no. 46.

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