Bat / Hathor emblem from a sistrum

Late Period

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 127

This is a fragment of a faience sistrum, or rattle. It may or may not have actually functioned as an instrument, but it certainly functioned as the icon and fetish of great goddesses.The goddess head sits above a large collar composed of tube and drop beads and floral elements. Her face is surrounded by a straight wig bound with horizontal ribbons. On either side of the wig appear uraei wearing elongated crowns of Upper and Lower Egypt. On her head she wears a cornice, and above that is a frieze of uraei crowned with sun disks; above these again is the broken lower part of the naos (chapel) -form frame for the sound elements. Within the naos sat another uraeus whose lower part can be seen. On either side diagonals of the ascending volutes typical of naos-form sistra can be recognized. Beneath the head and collar of the goddess remains the upper part of the handle of the sistrum that has the form of a papyrus umbel.

An elaborate sistrum like this one could also have elements atop the naos, known examples include cats or a vulture protecting a uraeus; a heavy upper part may be one reason this sistrum broke as it did.

Bat / Hathor emblem from a sistrum, Faience

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