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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature


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(Gr. σεῖστρον ), a mystical instrument of music used by the ancient Egyptians in the worship of Isis. Its most common form is seen in the annexed wood cut, which represents an ancient sistrum formerly belonging to the library of St. Genevieve, at Paris. Apuleius (Met. 11, 119, 121, ed. Ald.) describes the sistrum as a bronze rattle, consisting of a narrow plate curved like a sword belt, through which passed a few rods that rendered a loud, shrill sound. He says that these instruments were sometimes made of silver, or even of gold. Plutarch says that the shaking of the four bars within the circular apsis represented the agitation of the four elements within the compass of the world, by which all things are continually destroyed and reproduced, and that the cat sculptured upon the apsis was an emblem of the moon.

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Sistrum'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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