The old Egyptian tambourine, called a req, is encrusted inside and out with a geometric design in mother-of-pearl and bits of black and white wood. Some of the chips have worn away to rough ridges on the edge where it was held. The mother-of-pearl gleams dully through a smudge of grime built up over years of use. Five pairs of brass cymbals, hand beaten and slightly irregular in shape, are set into the rim. The resonating head is made of fine translucent fish skin, Nile sturgeon. The weight and balance of this tambourine feels better to me than any other I have found. It almost seems to have stored the knowledge and spirit of its former players.