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The Divine Evolution of Finger Cymbals

Turkish: Zills, Sil-Sil Arabic: Sagat, Sunouj Persian: Zang East Indian: Manjira or Manzira Farsi: Salasih

The cymbal was an ancient sacred instrument that belonged to the Divine. "The earliest record of symbol percussion played by musicians who were trained in the special schools which were attached to the religious centers in Mesopotamia." The word "cymbal" is derived from the goddess Cybele, the Phrygian mountain mother goddess from Anatolia (modern-day Turkey and known as Asia Minor to the ancient Romans). She was described as "an older, well-endowed woman with a crown on her head, keys in her hands, and draped in the cloth the colors of the flowers that grew on the land that she ruled over." Her worship spread from Anatolia throughout the Mediterranean. Cybele was "popular in Rome for many centuries, until her main temple (the Phrygianum) was destroyed with the overtaking of Christianity," and the Vatican was built over top of the ruins. The cymbal, originally a ritual instrument used to communicate with Cybele, over time became an accessory for music and dancing. "In Egypt, they discovered a manuscript that turns out to be the contract for a dancer who use symbols, and dates back to the first century before Christ." The sound that they made "as they clashed together had a magical significance." Cymbals began as larger and held one in each hand before they "were made smaller to enable them to be attached to the fingers." Used throughout the Middle East, North Africa, Persia, Arabia, and Morocco, the cymbal dates back to 1000 BCE, and started out as "two wooden or ivory sticks in each hand." Miniatures from the Ottoman time period "show dancers with sticks of wood" called Kas or Kasat in Arabic, which is where we get the word "castanets," and they played them similarly to how we do today. These are used in the Andalusian dance called Zambra Mora, part Belly Dance and part Flamenco, with barefoot dancers that use the Finger Cymbals instead of the Castanuelas. Besides Cybele, the cymbals "were also used in ancient Rome during the ritual worship of Bacchus (Dionysus)." As cultures progressed, so did musical instruments, and some evidence suggests that it was the ancient Greeks that "first began playing a metal form." 400 years ago in 1623, a sultan granted a man named "Avedis the family name 'Zildjian,' which literally means 'cymbal smith'. After leaving the palace and starting his own foundry, he spent years perfecting cymbal making techniques." Today, Zildjian is "still a brand name, however there are many superb brands and styles of Finger Cymbals." SOURCES Virginia Mesmera Caroleena Nericchio Ansuya Michelle Joyce Alexandra King Jamila Salimpour Maria Strova Tamalyn Dallal Neena and Veena

Keti Sharif

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