Drumming for the Divine : A Female Tympanon Player from Cyprus
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"Musical performance is an integral part of many cultural events. Artistic representations, as well as literary sources, provide evidence that music created a joyous atmosphere during celebrations, promoted a spiritual aura at sacred events, aroused terror in war, and kept the rhythm for physical activities such as weaving, hunting, and harvesting. Studies of ancient music have focused on the role of melodic instruments such as lyres and flutes, which frequently appear in art and ancient literature and are associated with lyric and epic poetry and other intellectual pursuits. Less attention, however, has been paid to percussion instruments. This article explores the role of small hand-held drums, or tympana, in Archaic Cyprus by examining a terracotta drummer figurine in the Museum of Art and Archaeology and its relationship to other drummer figurines. The Missouri drummer was produced at a coroplastic atelier specifically as a votive offering for the Cypriot Goddess. The atelier operated within the Kingdom of Salamis, most likely at the Achna sanctuary or perhaps at nearby Arsos. Discussion of the broader Eastern Mediterranean use of hand drums will illuminate the function and significance of tympana in Cypriot society. The evidence suggests that hand drums were played primarily by women in Eastern Mediterranean rituals associated with women, fertility, birth, and rebirth."--First paragraph.
Originally published in: Muse, 2002-2004, volume 36-38, pages 14-28
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