Chainmaille, which is also known as mail, maille, or chain maille, is a type of armour consisting of small metal rings linked together in a pattern to form a mesh. Back in the day, and I mean a really long time ago (the Dark Ages, High Middle Ages and the Renaissance), chainmaille was worn by soldiers as an armour. Mail armour provided an effective defense against slashing blows by edged weapons and penetration by thrusting and piercing weapons.
Casting morbid thoughts aside, chain maille has evolved to modern-day use. It is used as a protective clothing for butches against the meat-packing environment. Woodcarvers also use similar maille gloves to protect their hands from cuts. It is also used as stab-proof vests.
As the years go by, and its practical usefulness has passed, chainmaille has become and remained a decorative symbol with military overtones. It can now be seen in sculpture and jewellery, especially when made out of precious metals or colourful anodised metals. On top of the strong heavily-linked metal rings in chunkier accessories, chainmaille can also be made into delicate adornment pieces for the neck, ears and wrists.
Image: Grant BEAM Robotics
Chainmaille as Jewellery
The beauty about chainmaille jewellery is in the complexity of the design, and more importantly, its symmetry. Its repeating patterns creates an immense bond between the metal rings, representing strength to the wearer. Chainmaille is handcrafted; every single ring is attached by hand to the other ring. When handmade well, chainmaille jewellery will never break apart, even without any soldering carried out.
Personally, I’m a big fan of chainmaille jewellery. I admire its intricacy and balance in symmetry in the big, complex pieces, and adore how it can be made into smaller, finer pieces. When handcrafting the jewellery, it cultivates a sense of peace and calm when joining the rings together. It has also taught me a great deal of patience, especially when it comes to the more difficult pieces.
I believe that chainmaille signifies strength to the wearer, whether he/she is wearing a chunky maille belt, or a beautiful maille bracelet.
Union gives strength.
~ Aesop (620 BC – 560 BC) ~