An Egyptian Wood Clapper, ex MMA, Late Middle Kingdom – Early New Kingdom, ca. 1802–1450 BCE


$3,500 USD

Ancient Egyptian clappers, of ivory, bone, or wood, usually in pairs, are common in tombs of the Eleventh and Twelfth Dynasties at Thebes and el Lisht. They may have been placed in the tombs as an amuletic or a purely mechanical means of exorcising evil spirits, which are notoriously averse to noise and noisemakers. Such clappers, however, were also used by living Egyptians to accompany and beat out the time for their dances, especially temple dances, and for related rites performed in honor of the goddess Hathor and other deities. Having seen the same function performed by the hands of the dancers, clapped together in unison it is not surprising to find the clappers are carved in the stylized form of human hands and forearms and decorated with bracelets about wrists or arms as found in this stylized example.  

cf: Hayes, William C. 1953. Scepter of Egypt I: A Background for the Study of the Egyptian Antiquities in The Metropolitan Museum of Art: From the Earliest Times to the End of the Middle Kingdom. Cambridge, Mass.: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 247.

Dimensions:  Length: 10 inches (25.4 cm)

Condition:  Intact with some minor deterioration to the wood as is to be expected but overall in very good condition, particularly the black pigment decoration.

Provenance:  Excavated at Lisht north cemetery, deposit south of so-called "faience factory", MMA excavations by the Egyptian Expedition of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Acquired by the Museum in the division of finds, 1922.  MMA accession #22.197:A and excavation #197-A.