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 shen-ring appears as a hieroglyph, as a protective sign on stelae or in tombs, and as an amulet. It was used as a magical aid; during the 3rd and 4th Dynasties it was worn around the neck for protection.
Because the circle had no end, the shen-ring was regarded as the symbol of infinity, and when it encircled the sun, as the symbol of the eternity of the universe. The notion of encirclement then led to an expansion in meaning - protection - added to that of infinity. The shen-ring was particularly associated with Horus the falcon and Nekhbet the vulture, who hold the circle above the king to offer him eternal protection. Royal names were written in an elongated version of the shen-ring, the cartouche.