Ancient Egyptian Sistra


Ancient Egyptian Sistrum


After reading about the Hathor Temple complex at Dendera and the fact that although much had been destroyed there remained a wall in the "Birth House of King Nectanebo II " depicting a processional of priestesses playing sistra, I was determined on my 2007 trip to Egypt to find said wall and do my best to take a photo......below, the result!

and here is another image of the Goddess from the Temple grounds....


......  artifacts housed at the Louvre, Paris, France (thank you J. Ballas ):

Sistrum of Henuttawy, a chantress of Amun and Isis
The sistrum consists of a round handle and a hoop-shape 
that once held three metal rods fitted with bronze discs that created rattling sounds.


......  artifacts housed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY (thank you A. Derajja):



Seven Hathors with their frame drums and 4 with systrums as noted at

It was seven deities that we can now define (so great) as the fairy, were represented as seven young women who played
small drums and wore on his head the solar disk and horns as the mother goddess Hathor.

The seven Hathor watched the woman who gave birth with the other goddesses of birth and had the task of
predicting the future of the unborn...


(from the Temple of Hathor at Dendera)

We play the tambourine for Your Ka,
We dance for Your Majesty,
We exalt You
To the height of Heaven.
You are the Lady of Sekhem,
The Menat and the Sistrum,
The Lady of Music,
For whose Ka one plays.

We praise Your Majesty every day,
From dusk until the earth grows light,
We rejoice in Your Countenance, O Lady in Dendera!
We praise You with song.
You are the Lady of Jubilation, the Lady of the Iba-dance (a sacred dance),
The Lady of Music, the Lady of Harp-playing,
The Lady of Dancing, the Lady of Tying on Garlands,
The Lady of Myrrh, and the Lady of Leaping.

We glorify Your Majesty,
We give praise before Your Face.
We exalt Your Power
Over the Gods and the Goddesses.
You are the Lady of Hymns,
The Lady of the Library,
The Great Seshat
At the head of the Mansion of Records.

We propitiate Your Majesty every day.
Your heart rejoices at hearing our songs.
We rejoice when we see You, day by day.
Our hearts are jubilant when we see Your Majesty.
You are the Lady of Garlands, the Lady of Dance,
The Lady of Unending Drunkenness.
We rejoice before Your face; we play for Your Ka.
Your heart rejoices over our performance"

The Seven Hathors: seven aspects/forms of the Goddess Hathor.
They are the Goddesses of Fate: when a child born, they are there to pronounce its destiny.

In the "Houses of Eternity"(tombs) the Seven Hathors are represented as Cows together with the "Bull of the Netherworld".
Their red hair-ribbons have the power to protect from evil and dangerous spirits.

The Names of the Seven Hathors from the "Houses of Eternity":
1. Lady of the universe
2. Sky-storm
3. You from the Land of Silence
4. You from Khemmis
5. Red-hair
6. Bright red
7. Your name flourishes through skill
The Names of the Seven Hathors from Mythological Papyrii:
1. Lady of the house of jubilation
2,3. Ladies of the west
4,5. Ladies of th east
6,7. Ladies of the sacred land]

as posted @Goddess Hathor 

More interesting information can be found at following links:

Collection of sistrum-related images Compiled by M. Harrsch
NOTE:  Among them one of my favorite images ever of temple chantress Nehy holding her sistrum

Mistress of the House, Mistress of Heaven: Women in Ancient Egypt By Anne K. Capel, Glenn Markoe

the Goddess Isis playing the Naos-Sistrum of Hathor,
from the "Great Temple" of Sethi I at Abydos,
which by the way is a "must see" in one's lifetime
Recommended reading:  Omm Sety's Egypt


Bronze arched sistrum with Hathor head decoration From Egypt - Late Period, after 600 BC @ British Museum

... and here's a sistrum dating back to 2300-2000 BC ~ (see Metropolitan Museum)