Bone Clappers, CC BY Horniman Museum and Gardens
What are these hands saying to you? Are they stopping you or
inviting you? Are they waving to you? What could they be used for?
Clappers like this, made out of animal bones, were hit together by ancient Egyptians as a musical accompaniments and even to ward off evil spirits more than 3,000 years ago!
A thread may have been passed through the holes in the end, keeping the arms together and making them easier to carry. A lot of what we know about the ancient world comes from images painted on surviving pottery and images of clappers are found on the oldest of pottery. We know music was very important in ancient Egyptian society because of pictures of harps, lyres, flutes, tambourines, clappers, and sistrums all appear in the tombs of important people.
Things to think about:
- Some clappers were curved because they were made from hippopotamus bones. Which animal do you think these clappers were made from?
- What other instruments make a noise by hitting two similar pieces together?
- Why do you think music is so important to cultures around the world?
These objects can be used to illustrate a number of subjects. They are artistic and historical as well as musical.
Have students think about the importance of music across the world and maybe have a go at making their own out of household materials.
You can view the collection object over on The Horniman's website.
- These Ancient Egyptian clappers are made from bone, the sound made by hitting them together could be used to scare away evil spirits.
- What are these hands saying to you? Are they stopping you or inviting you? Are they waving to you? What could they be used for?