I really enjoy the Lord of the Rings film trilogy, although I was a fan of the books long before the movies came out, and (as with any film adaptation of a novel), there were a couple of points I had imagined differently.
One of the chiefest of these was the character of Faramir.
Faramir is one of my favorite characters of the entire trilogy. Although the brother of proud Boromir who sought to take the ring of power from Frodo, Faramir was not so tempted. Said he:
“I would not take this thing, if it lay by the highway. Not were Minas Tirith falling in ruin and I alone could save her, so, using the weapon of the Dark Lord for her good and my glory. No, I do not wish for such triumphs.”
Unfortunately, the films played this out very differently. In the script Faramir was transformed into a scruffy, weak-willed little brother primarily motivated by daddy issues and a desire to prove his own worth. The movies portray him as capturing Frodo with the intent of delivering the ring to his neurotic father.
Not the Faramir I know and love.
This costume allowed me to reimagine the character infused with all the integrity and lordliness that he has in the books.
…It also allowed me to create a killer chainmaille hauberk…
The character of Faramir as presented in the books was the chief inspiration for this costume, so the better you know the character, the better you’ll understand the costume I made to represent him.
Here are a few more Faramir quotes from the books.
“Here was one with an air of high nobility such as Aragorn at times revealed, less high perhaps, yet also less incalculable and remote: one of the Kings of Men born into a later time, but touched with the wisdom and sadness of the Eldar Race… He was a captain that men would follow, that he would follow, even under the shadow of the black wings.”
“I would not snare even an orc with a falsehood.”
“Praise from the praise-worthy is beyond all rewards.”
“I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend.”
There are two sides to Faramir’s character. On the one hand he was captain of the Rangers of Ithilien–a band of men tasked with maintaining peace in the wilder parts of the land of Gondor. As such he was a down-to-earth man, at home in nature and accustomed to the hardships of weather, travel, and battle.
On the other hand, Faramir was the son of Gondor’s steward—the ruling title in the kingdom until the return of the rightful king. In this respect, for all intents and purposes, he was a prince.
Although in my mind’s eye I usually picture Faramir as a ranger, because I wanted to emphasize the nobility of his character, I decided to build the costume around his princely side. I wanted to create a decorative suit of armor that would be masculine and ornate—fit for a king.
Chainmaille: A Personal Touch
When creating a cosplay, it is important to understand the character you are representing, but I believe it is just as vital to consider the identity of the cosplayer.
After all, the costume shouldn’t just look right, it should feel like it really belongs on the person wearing it. In this case, I would be the person in costume, which made chainmaille the obvious choice for the armor.
I’ve experimented with several types of armor, including leather and plate, but far and away I’ve been doing chainmaille the longest.
I was first introduced to chainmaille by a friend of my father when I was 13. He taught me how to make my own links and the basic European 4-in-1 “weave” (a repeating pattern for connecting links) and I was hooked.
Since then, in every home I’ve lived in you’ll find little metal links turning up in the carpet to this day, as if I had been marking my territory with them.
At first I made a lot of armor—a shirt, a bishop’s mantle, a coif, some gauntlets, and even a chainmaille necktie!
Eventually, though, I tired of the repetitive sheet weaves these projects required, and for nearly a decade I focused exclusively on more exotic jewelry weaves.
This changed a couple years back when I taught a friend how to get started on chainmaille. Their first project was a chain shirt, which turned out quite well. It got me thinking about my old armor from my teens, so I unboxed it for the next Halloween and discovered two things:
- I had grown since I was fifteen and could barely squeeze into the shirt, and
- My friend’s armor looked way better than mine did!
Right there I decided that I would make myself a new suit—a really nice one. “One suit to rule them all,” as it were.
Since the idea of a Faramir costume had been on my mind for some time as well, my super suit and the noble Faramir character were a perfect marriage.
The Finished Product
The end result of this creative confluence is a suit of armor that is among my all-time favorite projects.
The chainmaille part is a knee-length hauberk with slits for movement along the sides rather than down the middle (the more traditional location). This gives the armor a more formal, dressy silhouette, and also makes it feel more like fantasy armor.
The hauberk alone took around 350 hours to complete. It weighs approximately 50 lbs, incorporating about 45,000 individual rings into 5 different weaves. I used 4 different ring diameters and 4 different wire gauges (2 brass, 2 galvanized steel).
In addition to the maille, I added plate pauldrons, gauntlets, and greaves to complete the formal “knight” look. This approach of making chainmaille the main event of a suit of armor, with plate only as accents, is not very historical, and also contributed to the fantasy feel of the costume.
The pauldrons were purchased online, and are of the same style as those seen on the Gondorian knights in the film trilogy.
This allowed me to subtly hearken back to the aesthetic of the films so that the armor would feel like it could have come from the same universe (click here to learn how I did the same thing with a hand-made elven sword).
I made the gauntlets myself, following the elegant pattern and straightforward instructions provided by David Guyton:
I did not include the brass accents from the pattern in my final gauntlets since I didn’t want anything to pull focus from the hauberk.
The back of the shirt is inlaid with a sinuous, twisting brass design in the shape of a tree. This of course suggests the White Tree of Gondor—the symbol of the Gondorian culture, and an indispensable emblem for any prince’s attire.
That’s my Faramir cosplay in a nutshell. I hope you enjoy it as much as I liked working on it.
Future posts will delve into the details of the project—including the weaves I used and how I dealt with making the armor both practical and attractive.
I may not have Faramir’s raven-haired appearance, but now I have a suit of maille that could have been his. More importantly, I hope to live my life with the integrity and honor that Faramir espoused.