Chain

Bicycle chain

A chain is a series of connected links which are typically made of metal. A chain may consist of two or more links.

According to the ‘Complete Guide to Chain,’ the metal link chain was invented in 225 BCE. The prevalent modern symbolism is oppression, due to the use for a mechanical restriction of the liberty of a human or animal. However, chains can also symbolize interconnectivity or interdependence.

Chains are usually made in one of two styles, according to their intended use. Those designed for lifting, such as when used with a hoist; for pulling; or for securing, such as with a bicycle lock, have links that are torus shaped, which make the chain flexible in two dimensions (The fixed third dimension being a chain’s length). Those designed for transferring power in machines have links designed to mesh with the teeth of the sprockets of the machine, and are flexible in only one dimension. They are known as roller chains, though there are also non-roller chains such as block chain.

Uses for chain include: bicycle chain (transfers power from the pedals to the drive-wheel of a bicycle thus propelling it), chain gun, chainsaw, door chain (a type of security device), keychain, snow chains (used to improve traction in snow), ball and chain (either the actual restraint device that was used to slow down prisoners, or a derogatory description of a person’s significant other), chain link fencing (vertical wires that are bent in a zig zag fashion and linked to each other), jewelry (e.g. necklaces and bracelets made out of small chains of gold and silver), percussion instrument for sound effects (such as in Schönberg’s ‘Gurre-Lieder’ and Janáček’s ‘From the House of the Dead’),  and chain mail (body armor made of small metal rings linked together in a pattern to form a mesh).

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