This noisy little device played a very important role in agricultural and horticultural life in mediaeval and Tudor times.
Small children were sent out into the field to make as much noise as possible in order to scare the crows and pigeons off valuable crops of peas, beans, corn and wheat.
The clapper also had a role in the market, and would be used instead of a bell to draw customers to a stall. It was used during Lent because the ringing of bells was forbidden.
Poor and unfortunate lepers would be required to carry a bell or clapper to announce their progress.
On a happier note, the clapper was used during performances in street theatre and puppet shows. Morality plays were very popular with sound effects such as horses hooves, door knocks and skeletons being part of the fun.
There were a number of clapping toys made around 364 BC. They were given to guard the children and drive away evil spirits. In Greece the rattles imitated the noise of a snake and in Rome the priests used a sistrum in their sacred ceremonies to Isis.
In the middle ages rattles were used to call the faithful to prayer during Lent when the ringing of bells was forbidden.
This toy is a copy of one given to children in Japan. The lion has guardian duties not only of people but also inanimate objects such as the temples.
Red is chosen for girls, it being an active colour. Black, a passive colour, is given to boys.
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