When you think of chainmaille, you automatically think of knights and dragons and jousting tournaments. The use of this flexible armor has a much earlier history and dates back to the 4th century BCE.
It is believed that chainmaille was invented by the Celts and was adopted by the Romans after they realized its potential after fighting the Celts. In addition to Europe, other cultures including Japan and Persia used chainmaille as protection in battle. In Japan, chainmaille was known as Kusari and was used in samurai armor in the 1270s. Persia’s use of chainmaille is lesser known but was used as late as 100 years ago by armies.
A variety of materials were used to make chainmaille including brass, iron and steel. Chainmaille is also spelled chain mail, chain maille and, sometimes, simply maille – meaning a sheet of rings. Unlike other forms of armor, maille was flexible, easy to make, less expensive and able to be fitted to warriors of all sizes.
As an armor, maille was not effective against the use of gunpower and bullets and soon fell out of use. Contemporary uses now involve maille gloves in the butcher trade and protective gear for scuba divers. Of course it is still used by participants in re-enactments of historical battles.
Today, chainmaille refers to the beautiful weaves used in jewellery and other items, all done by interlocking jump rings with each other using two pairs of pliers.
Upcoming chainmaille classes at BeadFX:
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