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Small frame drum with one skin nailed or glued to a shallow circular frame, into which jingles or pellet bells are set. It is held with one hand and struck with the other, or simply shaken. Tambourines were played in ancient Mesopotamia, Greece, and Rome, especially in religious contexts, and they have long been prominent in Middle Eastern folk and religious use. Crusaders took them to Europe in the 13th century.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on tambourine, visit Britannica.com.