Amulets were used in Ancient Egypt for decorative and protective purposes. They were often crafted in the form of deities, body parts, and animals to evoke the protection or attributes of the divine. The goddess, Nut, was the sky goddess of Ancient Egypt: she was depicted as a nude woman, covered in stars, who arched herself over the earth. She was thought to give birth to the sun each day, and to have given us 365 days in the year. Prior to this, there were only 360 days annually, and the supreme god, Ra, was fearful of the pregnant Nut stealing his power. Ra ordered that Nut should not give birth on any day of the year. Nut spoke to Thoth, the god of wisdom, who planned to gamble against Khonsu (the moon god) for moonlight. Thoth won so many times that he created 5 days of moonlight, during which Nut could give birth to her 5 children.
Andrews presents a theory that Nut is depicted as a sow on account of her role in the birth and death of the sun; “The sky goddess whose arched body formed the vault of heaven gave birth to the sun each dawn and swallowed him each dusk; conversely, she bore the myriad stars each evening and gobbled them up each dawn. It is not surprising that, as mother of the stars, she should have taken the form of a great sow, for the female pig’s habit of eating her own piglets must have been well known. Such amulets were intended to endow their wearer with fecundity” (Andrews: Amulets of Ancient Egypt; 1994:35).
To find out more about Ancient Egyptian amulets please see our relevant blog post: Egyptian Amulets and their Meanings: Ancient Egyptian Gods.