The Tutankhamun Exhibit
The two arched sistra, or ritualistic rattles, though differing slightly in size (20-1/4 and 20-1/2 inches high), clearly represent a pair. Each has a wooden grip of facetted section, surmounted by a cube-like 'capital' into which slots the shaker-loop with its three serpentine rods and three sets of three square jangles. The heaviness of this unique design is relieved, though only marginally, by the gold leaf applied to the gessoed wooden grip.
That the two sistra were functional instruments and not merely funerary models is indicated by wear on the inside of the arch. The sistrum is predominantly a female instrument, with little relevance to the burial of a king. It is possible, therefore, that the sistra from the tomb of Tutankhamun were not part of the funeral equipment proper, but instruments employed during the burial ritual and abandoned on the Hathor couch at the time the tomb was closed.
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