Finger cymbals, or zils in Turkish, are an ancient and popular instrument throughout the Middle East, North Africa, Mediterranean, and Southwest Asia. They are based on wooden clappers which appeared in Egypt around 3000 BCE. Originally, they looked like a pair of arms and hands and were before being made of metal, they were made of bone, ivory, and copper.
Zils have a rich history with Middle Eastern music and belly dancing, which continues even now. Performers wear two Cymbals on each hand, attached to the thumb and middle finger with elastic, which they strike together to create a wide range of sounds. The size of the zils determines their pitch and tone. Small cymbals have a high pitch, while large cymbals have a lower pitch and their sound travels farther. No matter the size, zils still strike a lasting chord in the music world today.
Discovery Kits include a variety of artifacts and specimens from the Museum’s Collection that allow students to investigate global and local objects. The Collections support the Museum’s mission of inspiring curiosity and discovery around science, history, and culture. Each kit includes objects from the Museums archives, helpful resources and suggested activities. Discovery Kits are a great way for teachers to incorporate primary source and object-based learning into the classroom or as a way to prepare for or extend a Museum visit.