The sistrum was a musical percussion instrument first used by the ancient Egyptians. Made from clay, wood, or metal, the instrument provided rhythmical accompaniment to other instruments, particularly in religious rites and festivals. Played by shaking the instrument like a rattle, moveable objects on the bars, produced sounds.
The instrument was closely associated with ritual rites in honour of Isis. Indeed, in Egyptian art, the goddess and her priestesses are often depicted holding a sistrum. Many sistrums and similar musical instruments have been found in graves, pointing to a belief that music was a part of the after-life.