Currently reading : Nails Adorned
When I first spotted K/LLER Collection‘s set of engraved brass nails, they seemed more like antique objets d’art than wearable accessories; the sheer decadence of wearing heavy, gleaming, ornate metal nails seemed performative and decidedly un-contemporary, more fitting for Marie Antoinette or ancient empresses. Visually, I was immediately reminded of golden finger and toe tips used by ancient Egyptians used to wrap hands and feet of mummies, and because I was convinced that the brass nails had to have been inspired by an earlier prototype, I decided to dig a bit into the history of precious nail adornments. As I learned, nail guards and covers pop up throughout the world’s history. For example, guards made with metal, filigree and inlaid stones were quite popular among Chinese nobles during the Qing dynasty: worn on just a few fingers, nail covers displayed the wealth of their owner through fine materials and workmanship while their shape signified their owners’ inability to perform manual labor.
During my search, I amassed a small collection of intricate, bizarre, and beautiful nail extensions and adornments – from all over the world and spanning thousands of years – which you can view below.
[Image Credits: Finger stalls: King Tut’s Tomb and New Kingdom Tomb, via The Met; Qing nail covering photos from Cambridge Anthropology Museum, Michael Backman, MIT and Mharrsch; Nail ring by Anna-Sara Davik; terra cotta hand via The Met; Chanel rings; Thai images Jenny Buccos and Google Images; Crazy black nail contraption, cover photo of Nailed.]