Two New Kingdom Harpists

Men Playing Harps
Left: Limestone, New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, ca. 1350 BCE
Right: Baked clay, Dynasties 18-19, ca. 1350-1070 BCE
"These two figurines illustrate the main types of Egyptian harps:
the floor harp (stone figure) and the tall harp (clay figurine)
Poorly photographed info card, adjusted to increase contrast
Photos ©Joan Ann Lansberry, 2010

The info card above the two figurines explains:
"The most common musical instruments in religious ceremonies were the sistrum (a type of rattle), and the menat (a beaded necklace with decorative counterpoise), both of which, when shaken, produced a rattling sound that was thought to please the gods."

And what would the harpists have been singing about? Foster and Foster reveal:

"Another kind of poem from the lyric genre is the Harper's Song. There are only a few of these, and they form a strange interlude in the literature; for they seem to question the sacred Egyptian principle of eternal life, urging the hearer to carpe diem, 'seize the day':

"Grieve not your heart, whatever comes,
     let sweet music play before you;
Recall not the evil, loathsome to God,
     but have joy, joy, joy, and pleasure!

"The harper's song from Inherkhawy's tomb says just this:

"All who come into being as flesh,
     pass on...
Let your heart be drunk on the gift of Day
     until that day comes when you anchor."

"Ancient Egyptian Literature", John L. Foster and Ann L. Foster, in Egyptology Today, edited by Richard H. Wilkinson, (Cambridge University Press, 2008), pages 215-216)