Shen Ring

Horus falcon grasping Shen Rings

Meaning of Name:

From Shenu ("to encircle")



A symbol of eternity and the sun, the Shen ring is represented as a double strand of rope, the ends of which are folded in such a way that a closed ring is formed with a knot on the underside. The symbol could be stretched to contain other objects, which were then understood as being made eternal by the Shen ring. Indeed, when it contained a name, the symbol became the cartouche. One theory is that the Shen ring represented the sun's eternal journey.

During the 3rd and 4th Dynasties it was worn around the neck for protection, and painted on coffins. Magic rings were very popular and believed to give protection from illnesses. The Shen ring was sometimes attached to various types of staffs such as the Was specter, the staff of authority, or power, symbolizing the eternal authority of that power.

The Shen ring was often held by bird deities with strong solar connections, such as Horus, Mut, and Nekhbet. The upcurved wings of some jewelery in the form of birds deliberately imitates the shape of the Shen that they hold in their claws. Examples have been found made of gold, lapis lazuli, feldspar, basalt, glass, and carnelian.

Magical Amulets