curved; each clapper in the shape of a thin human arm and hand with long, thin fingers; incised bracelets at each wrist with linear patterns; ivory colored with some tan spotting

Pair of clappers, about 1550-1292 BCE

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Hippopotamus ivoryexpand_more

The Ethel Morrison Van Derlip Fundexpand_more  2012.64a,b

These delicately carved forearms, found in a three-thousand-year-old ancient Egyptian tomb, are percussive instruments. Their curved shape and matching growth lines show that they were made from a single hippopotamus tusk, sawed down the middle into two equal pieces. Music was an important part of ceremonies and banquets in ancient Egypt, and the noise of clapping, banging, and rattling was thought to drive away hostile forces. While we will never know exactly how ancient Egyptian music sounded, there are hieroglyphs and wall paintings that show us how these clappers were played: struck together just as one would clap hands.

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Details
Title
Pair of clappers
Role
Artist
Accession Number
2012.64a,b
Curator Approved

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curved; each clapper in the shape of a thin human arm and hand with long, thin fingers; incised bracelets at each wrist with linear patterns; ivory colored with some tan spotting