AN EGYPTIAN BRONZE SISTRUM
LATE PERIOD, DYNASTY XXVI-XXX, 664-343 B.C.
The arch with four perforations on each side for attachment of the cross bars, surmounted by a recumbent Bastet in the form of a feline, her litter of two kittens before her, flanking a falcon, the handle with back to back busts of Hathor, the patron of music, wearing her characteristic wig, two uraei on either side of her head, a rectangular cobra modius above her hear where the arch joins the handle. Piece also comes with a custom made stand! Measures 15 inches or 38.1cm in height.
Provenance: Collected by Gustave Jéquier (1868-1946)
Exhibited at Christies Auction House, USA, 2007
Ex. Billy Jamieson (1954-2011)
Authentication: Gayle Gibson of the Royal Ontarion Museum, Toronto.
For a similar sistrum see no. 35b in Capei and Markoe, eds, Mistress of the House, Mistress of Heaven, Women in Ancient Egypt.
R.D. Anderson, Catalogue of Egyptian Antiqu-2 (London, The British Museum Press, 1976)
Authenticated by Gayle Gibson, "Egyptologist", Royal Ontario Museum.
Perhaps one of the main cult objects associated with Hathor was the sistrum, a musical rattle. Its name is derived from the Greek, seiein, meaning "to shake".
The sound of the sistrum is metallic, produced by a number of metal disks or squares, strung onto a set of transverse bars, set horizontally into a frame of varying design. Its sound was thought to echo that of a stem of papyrus being shaken. However, the acoustic effects were frequently extremely limited. The sistrum was suitable for beating a rhythmical accompaniment in open-air processions. Apuleius, the Roman philosopher, described a procession in honor of Isis, in The Golden Ass, where the rhythmic pattern was three beats followed by a pause on the fourth. The sound of the instrument seems to have been regarded as protective and also symbolic of divine blessing and the concept of rebirth. In addition to the symbolic significance of its sound, the shape and decoration of the sistrum relate it to the divine.The symbolic value of the sistrum far exceeded its musical potential. It is thought that the instrument may have originated in the practice of shaking bundles of papyrus flowers (hence the onomatopoeic name sesheshet) with which Hathor was associated. In fact, the papyrus plant appears to be at the base of the mythology surrounding the sistrum. It is from a papyrus thicket that Hathor is seen to emerge, and it is also in a papyrus thicket where Isis raised her infant son, Horus. Hence, though originally mostly associated with Hathor, the sistrum eventually entered the cults of other deities and especially those of Amun and Isis. (Hathor's Sistrum by Jimmy Dunn)
Galleria Delvecchio .… “is pleased to present a collection of Egyptian antiquities assembled by the celebrated Swiss Egyptologist Gustave Jéquier. Jéquier was born in 1868 in Neuchatel. He first studied in Paris under Gaston Maspero (1846-1916) and later went to Berlin before joining the de Morgan expedition to Persia, during which time he contributed to the discovery and decipherment of the code of Hammurabi. Gustave Jéquier was a giant in the field of Egyptology whose contributions are far too numerous to list here. He is best know for his association with the French Institute in Cairo which enabled him to engage in seminal research at the pyramid site of the Old Kingdom. He also completed the work begun at Abydos by his Swiss compatriot, [Henri] Eduard Naville (1844-1926). The two are considered to be Switzerland’s most preeminent Egyptologists. One of Jéquier’s most important discoveries was the 13th Dynasty pyramid of Khendjer. He wrote extensively on his history of Egyptian architecture, and published on philology and religion as well. Gustave Jéquier died in 1946 in the city in which he was born, and most of his collection was acquired by the University of Basel. The works of art presented here were given to a sibling who emigrated to the US in the late 1940’s; the collection later passed to their daughter, Jéquier’s niece.”