Numism > Reading For the Advanced Collector

Isis

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moonmoth:
Thanks, Pat.  That definition of a sistrum is excellent, full of detail.  I can now visualise it against the actual coins it appears in.  I see that what I was taking for bells or rattlers must be the ends of the rods, or maybe the leaf-shaped stops or cotter pins that stop the loose rods from falling out. 

(I took "clapper" to mean the thing that makes bells ring.  But you meant a noisemaker in a more generic sense.  Webster (on line) says: a : the tongue of a bell b : a mechanical device that makes noise especially by the banging of one part against another.  I would have used the word "rattle" for this sort of noisemaker - for crows, you'd use something like this one: http://www.fuzzy-duck.co.uk/images/footballrattle.gif . Semantics - always needs watching!)

This is my Isis Faria, on a rather more mundane coin of Claudius II.  Egg-shaped sistrum, with rods; and she is carrying her ceremonial bucket.

slokind:
That's our statuary type, all right, on the Claudius II antoninianus.  I found it also in Sear III, no. 11370, illustrated.  I was having trouble reading what looked like N for an S and, for some odd reason, didn't think of using Isis as a Salus type.  I don't have RIC so late as this.  And Sear (or RIC) doesn't know that 'basket' is not an option for Isis, but, on the other hand, perhaps neither did Claudius II's mint.  But it does raise a question: Isis Pharia, in my experience (and I just went through 24 web pages of Alexandria for Ant Pius, where I saw dozens of Isis Pharia as also she does appear on Rome silver, I think), as the Isis of ships benefiting by the presence of the famous Pharos, she has that big sail.  I can see no excuse for calling this stg. Isis, with her most traditonal attributes, the Isis crown, the sistrum, and the situla (and doubtless the Isis knot of her dress), 'Pharia'.   I looked in Sear just to see whether he said 'Pharia': he doesn't.
I had rather suspected that this standard temple statue Isis might be the type seen in Rome; I haven't even checked BMCRE yet for Antonine sestertii.  In that case, I wouldn't be surprised if such a statue type stood in temples, for instance, at Delos or anywhere in Greece where they had a Hellenistic Serapeion--most urban places, actually.  It looks like a Greek statue of, say, the 3cBC.
What it is not, is plain from RPC: anywhere but Alexandria and anything but Pharia.  I'll go to LIMC tomorrow.
BTW: I thought of 'rattle' as onomatopoea, the noise made by pebbles or beans or gravel inside a container, a gourd or one made of clay (like the little Geometric bird rattle from the Athens Kerameikos cemetery, from an infant grave).  A 'clapper', I thought, makes a sharp, high, impact noise, as, yes, a bell's or (as you found) other metal on metal.  I didn't know the construction of the crow-dispelling one, which I probably ran across reading Hardy or some other Victorian, but, though vernacularly it may be a rattle, it...well, it doesn't rattle; it goes clackity-snappity, like a stick on a picket fence or a stiff card inserted to make noise as the spokes of a bicycle wheel passes over it.  The Hallowe'en toys have a metal pellet on the end of a bit of spring steel, which, when shaken, makes quite a racket by rapidly hitting a tin panel.  The crow-dispeller makes a racket, but not a rattle, too.  Enough!  Pat
I think, having only the Shorter at home, I'd better check the big OED tomorrow, too.  A corner of my brain thrives on these things for desserts or appetizers.

slokind:
(a) I knew I'd seen one in Rome.  Her Vase in her l. hand is wholly restored.  Actually, all extremities, probably, are restored.
• Rome, Museo Capitolino. The Dying Gaul, copy of a bronze, part of a monument set up by Attalos I of Pergamon, probably by the 220s BC, commemorating his victory over invading Gauls in 235.  The torque and singed hair, as well as his very un-Greek facial structure, were of great interest to the sculptor.  He sits on a Celtic (Gaulish) shield, with a short sword, and a great round Celtic trumpet curls around his feet.  To a Greek, or other Mediterranean person, his long torso (which looks perfectly ordinary to us) is as novel an ethnic trait as the way his hair (not least his mustache) grows.
The statue in the background is easily identified as Isis by the way her drapery is knotted in front (although her sistrum is doubtless modern).
(b) Here is a Trajanic funerary relief with the family of a priestess of Isis with a sistrum beside her.
• Rome, MNR (Terme, cloister)  Funerary portraits
C RABIRIVS POST L  RABIRIA  VSIA PRIMA SAC
   HERMODORVS        DEMARIS
These people have, I think, later names; as usual some of the names are Greek (Hermodorus, Demaris).  The woman (center) is designated Prima Sac[erdos = First Priestess; her hairstyle and the sistrum beside her head suggest that she was a priestess of Isis (I think...).  Rabirius wears an himation (orator, educated).  Hermodorus has a patera beside his head, also suggesting priestly functions.
Pat L.

slokind:
How to learn:  One never really registers what one sees until one has had to correct onself on its account.  Here is a nearly lifesize statue of Isis in Alexandria, from Alexandria, holding the situla (bail handle) and with her r. hand missing but OK to hold a sistrum.  And J.M.C. Toynbee in the medallions book says that Isis and Serapis never made it into the official rota of festivals in Rome (to explain paucity of medallions with Isis).
Anyway, coins notwithstanding, Alexandria did have this kind of statue.  I did not, however, find it in Antonine BMCRE except in a note re a problematic one of Faustina II on p. 245, and I didn't find this kind at all in BMCRE V, Severan.
Pat L.
P.S. For more Claudius Gothicus specimens, a real sistrum in BM and a rather slender situla, and more inexplicable calling of a plain Isis an "Isis Faria" (with no source evidence such as mention in an ancient author of a shrine of Isis IN the Pharos, describing a statue like the ones in the Capitoline (grayscale photo of her, without the Dying Gaul in front, posted by Congius, provided, and even the museum to be deduced from my old color slide), see:
https://www.forumancientcoins.com/board/index.php?topic=19716.msg131421#msg131421

moonmoth:
Complete illumination will surely follow upon Pat looking into a subject!

I have misread The Dictionary of Ancient Coins.  Under "Isis Faria" (and not in the longer section on "Isis") it shows a drawing of the actual Isis Faria but also gives a quotation as follows:

Respecting the sistrum and the situla in the hands of Isis, Servius, as quoted by Eckhel, says, "Isis is the genius of Egypt, who by the movement of her sistrum, which she carries in her right hand, signifies the access and recess (or the rising and falling) of the Nile; and by the situla, or bucket, which she holds in her left hand, she shows the filling of all lacunae, that is all of the ditches and furrows into which the stagnant water of the Nile is received." See Pharia Isis.

Misleading to have this under "Isis Faria."  But an interesting quote.

That clip is available in Numiswiki.  You can also find there this clip:

ALEXANDRIA.  On the reverse of a silver Hadrian (engraved in Oiselius, TAB. xxxiv. p. 149), the type of a female standing clothed in a tunic [supposed to represent the genius of Egypt].  She holds in her right hand the sistrum, in connexion with the worship of Isis [the movement of that instrument signifying the rise of the Nile.]  In her left hand she holds a bucket or waterpot (situla) by which is indicated the flow of canals or watercourses.--Rasche.

Here's "Aegyptos" from Coin Archives:

http://imagedb.coinarchives.com/img/leu/093/image00026.jpg

Reclining, but with the same attributes: headdress, sistrum, situlum (looking like a basket this time) and this time with an ibis on a column nearby.  Obviously not from the same statue; perhaps a variation on the theme.


Moving on to rattles .. The OED gives two primary definitions of "rattle". The first is "a case of some hard material containing small bodies which rattle when the object is shaken."  The second is "an instrument having a vibrating tongue fixed in a frame, which slips over the teeth of a ratchet-wheel with a loud noise when the object is whirled round. (Formerly used by watchmen and others to give an alarm.)"  Somewhat different types of noisemaker, but both with the same name.

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