Egyptian Museum in Tahrir celebrates World Music Day

Nevine El-Aref , Wednesday 16 Jun 2021

The exhibition includes 22 musical instruments used by ancient Egyptians who were fond of music

Ancient musical instruments
A collection of 22 ancient musical instruments with a wooden model.

A collection of 22 ancient musical instruments are on show at the entrance to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo's Tahrir to celebrate World Music Day, first marked on 21 June 1982. The day is meant to encourage music festivals, competitions, and the exchange of musical expressions and experiences.

Ancient Egyptians were fond of music, which acquired prominence in their life and religious rituals, during feasts, festivals, banquets and on the walls of their temples. Music in ancient times was a well-organised art form, with its traditions, rules, maestros, and mentors.

Sabah Abdel-Razek, director of the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir, said that there were deities closely associated with music, including the Goddess of Music Hathor, who associated with and protected music and musicians in ancient Egypt. Another notable deity was Bes.

Ancient musical instruments

“We know that music was an important aspect of ancient Egyptian life because of the many artefacts and scenes found from all periods of Egyptian history,” she said, noting that the range of musical objects from ancient Egyptian music includes percussion, wind and string instruments.

The exhibition includes 22 objects among which are a Middle Kingdom wooden model representing a troupe of male and female musicians and singers during a musical performance for their master. This model was discovered in Saqqara.

Ancient musical instruments

A 25th Dynasty small vaulted funerary stela discovered in Sheikh Abdel-Qurna in Luxor depicts a musician named Hur Sawa playing his instrument in front of the deity Ra-Horakhty.

 A group of single and double bass flutes, from the wind instrument family, and two pieces of painted leather used as covers for drums are on show. Drums and tambourines are also among the exhibited objects. Both pieces are considered to be the oldest music instruments known in ancient Egypt. They were discovered in Akhmim in Middle Egypt and date back to the Late Period.

There are also a group of clappers, cymbals, sistrums, and bells made of different materials such as bronze, wood, ivory and gilded wood. They were discovered in Saqqara, Abydos, Luxor, and San El-Hagar and date to the New Kingdom and the Late Period.

A group of small statues of musicians representing men and women playing the harp and a statue of a man playing the flute are among the displayed collection. This group is made of terracotta, faience, and limestone. The statues were discovered in various places, such as Luxor and Tall El-Yahudiya in the Eastern Delta and date to the Middle Kingdom, New Kingdom, and Late Period.

Ancient musical instruments

Ancient musical instruments

Ancient musical instruments

wooden model
A wooden model from the Middle Kingdom representing a troupe of male and female musicians and singers during a musical performance for their master.

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