In ancient Egypt a shen ring was a circle with a line tangent to it, represented in hieroglyphs as a stylised loop of a rope. The word shen itself means, in ancient Egyptian, encircle, while the shen ring represented eternal protection.
The shen ring is most often seen carried by the falcon god Horus, but was also carried by the vulture goddess Nekhbet. It was used as early as the Third Dynasty where it can be seen in the reliefs from Djoser's Step Pyramid complex.
|Shen ring – (in talons)|
The symbol could be stretched to contain other objects, which were then understood as being eternally protected by the shen ring. In its elongated form the shen ring became the cartouche, which enclosed and protected a royal name.
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