In Egyptian culture and mythology, Shu was believed to be divinity of light and air, personifying the wind and the earth’s atmosphere. He marked the separation between day and night, and between the living and the dead. The deity was also associated with the principle of life. Shu was particularly important to sailors, as they called upon his power to aid the ships’ sails. It is believed that his children, Nut (goddess of the sky) and Geb (god of the Earth), were infatuated with each other. Shu intervened, and held Nut above his head to separate the pair: in doing so, he created the atmosphere and the conditions required for life. In amulets, such as this fine example, Shu kneels with his arms raised to perform this exploit. Sometimes a sun disk is shown over Shu’s head, in allusion to the sky.
To discover more about Egyptian amulets, please visit our relevant blog post: Amulets in Ancient Egypt.