Chain of office for the mayor of Sittard-Geleen-BornSittard 2008
Maurice Mentjens’ design for the new chain of office of the mayor of the municipality of Sittard, Geleen and Born, united in 2001, reflects that unity in silver. He was commissioned to design a chain of office that was not only worthy of a mayor but also a timeless piece and above all a piece that typifies the modern and ambitious municipality of Sittard-Geleen. Moreover, the chain needed to be appropriate for both men and women to wear.
The result, made by silversmith Rob Huyben of Maastricht, is a chain made up of silver rings each with a diameter of 30 mm, a depth of 7 mm and a thickness of 3 mm.
Every link in the chain symbolises a town or village within this still young municipality, and each link is made of two rings pushed together. The rings are like atoms combining to form the DNA of the municipality.
The links are connected with each other using Dyneema®, a high-tech fibre invented by DSM in Geleen. Dyneema® has incredible tensile strength. The 0.28 mm thickness has been used, rendering it almost invisible. As the Dyneema® threads are clamped inside a groove between the two parts of each ring, they are almost completely hidden. The rings therefore appear to be held together magnetically, a wonderful metaphor for the invisible connection between the towns and villages of the municipality. This gives the chain a modern, sophisticated, high-tech appearance in keeping with the young, dynamic and progressive character of the municipality.
On the inside of the rings is an engraving of the first article of the Dutch Constitution in the dialect of Sittard-Geleen-Born: Jederein dae zich in Nederlandj bevintj, wurt in ’n zelfde geval oppe zelfde maneier behanjeldj. Ongersjeid make waeges gelouf, laeveseuvertuging, politieke meining,ras, gesjlach of óm wat veur rae dan ouch, is neet toegesjtange. All those who find themselves in the Netherlands will be treated equally in equal situations. Discrimination on the basis of faith, philosophy of life, political persuasion, race, gender or on any other grounds will not be tolerated.
The three lower rings, from which the national coat of arms is suspended, feature a thin red, white and blue line – in that order – to form the tricolour of the Dutch flag.
The medallion with the national coat of arms on one side and the name of the municipality on the other needed to be reversible. The medallion therefore features a clever blocking mechanism, so that the correct side always faces the front.
The catholic roots of the municipality are subtly referred to. The links of the chain are reminiscent of the beads on a rosary and the text of the first article of the constitution is engraved on the inside of the rings like a mantra or prayer.
According to the Royal Decree of 16 November 1852, the chain of office must have the following appearance
The distinguishing symbols, to be worn by the mayor, consist of a silver medallion, with a diameter of forty millimetres and displaying on one side the national coat of arms and on the other the coat of arms of the municipality, or – should the municipality not have a coat of arms – the name of the municipality; the medallion hangs on the chest, whether on a silver chain or on an orange silk ribbon; the chain or ribbon is attached to the coat or outer garment on both shoulders.
The mayor, as well as an acting mayor, is obliged to wear the chain of office during council meetings and at a reception of a Royal Commissioner, a minister or the Queen. The mayor must also wear the chain for public appearances in the event or aftermath of a fire, a revolt, a public gathering or any other public order disturbance.
Mayors generally wear the chain with the coat of arms of the municipality facing the front when representing the municipality or chairing council meetings; if the mayor is representing the state, for example when royal honours are being presented, the national coat of arms will face the front.
The chain of office is the ornament of the municipality. It symbolises the rank of the mayor. Audiences greatly appreciate the mayor wearing his or her chain of office in public.