History of Piercing

Piercings are much more than a small hole, or fistula. This Body Modification was the first among humans, and could have been one of the first basic forms of expression and culture among primitive peoples.

Adornment of the body can be very positive and should be acknowledged as a legitimate practice, not just a trend for rebellious teens. Piercing various body parts has always been a part of human custom and has been going on for thousands of years.Earlobes may have been the first piercing because of the ease of the procedure. One of the oldest mummies in the world, Otzi the iceman had earlobes that had been stretched to about 7-11 millimeters in diameter, and it is estimated he is about 5,000 years old.. Since most tribes believed that demons could enter the body via the ear it could have been possible that a lobe piercing could prevent it.

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Due to their mythology that demons and spirits are repelled by metal. Many sailors would use a gold ear piercing because of the superstition that it could improve their eyesight and keep them safe, while also promising that if their body washed up on shore the gold could be used to pay for a christian burial. For most other cultures this adornment is not only for girls, but for both genders. In the past it wasn’t uncommon for men to have pierced lobes, with people like Shakespeare, Sir Walter Raleigh and Francis Drake all wearing them. Pierced ears were also very common among the Roman Republic with more men than women having them. Nostril piercings first appeared in Middle East around 4,000 years ago.

This is mentioned in Genesis 24:22 where a gift of a “golden earring” was given, which in the original hebrew actually translated to nose ring. Nose piercing is still common in nomadic cultures like the berber and Beja tribes in africa and Bedouins in the Middle East. The size of the ring displayed the affluence of the family, and allows for financial security for women because in absence of the man the ring can be sold for gold. In 16th century nose piercing was brought to India by emperors from the Middle East. It is typically worn in the left nostril and occasionally in both to aid in childbirth or fertility.

Counter culture Americans appropriated this and brought back to america in late 1960s, and also later adopted by punk movement as sign of rebellion. The second most common piercing in primitive cultures is the Septum piercing, which was primarily popular among warrior tribes due to how fierce it tended to make them look, and also because it could be stretched to allow for larger pieces of jewelry. In the Asmat tribe, a sacred tusk is the Otsj which is commonly styled as a tusk but is made from a leg bone of a pig, or the tibia of a slain enemy. Among the natives of Central America, the septum piercing was extremely common, and gold and jade were the preferred materials. The native Cunas of Panama continue to wear solid gold jewelry to this day. The Nez Perc tribe of Washington owes their name to their septum piercings, which meant pierced nose in French, from the french fur traders.

. The aboriginals of Australia were very fond of this piercing and used it to flatten out the nose to become more attractive. The age at which the child would receive the piercing depends on the tribe, with some occurring between the ages 18 to 22 and others as early as 9 or ten years old. One of the last mainstream piercings practiced by primitive people is the lip piercing, or labret. In the Dogon tribe of Mali and the Nuba tribe of Ethiopia lip rings are worn because of religious significance, but traditionally labret plates are. Both Central American and South American tribes stretch their lips to allow for the insertion of large wooden or clay plates.

In Mayan and Aztec culture this was only for men of high positions of power, who had ornate pure gold, jade, or obsidian plates. Among the Inuits of northern Canada they formed jewelry from walrus ivory, shells of marine life, bone, or wood. In another tribe with stretched labrets, the Makololo, the chief was asked why they would pierce and stretch their lips, and he answered “For beauty! They are the only beautiful things women have. Men have beards, women have none. What kind of person would she be without [ a stretched labret ]? She would not be a woman at all.” While this is an extreme example, the significance of this Modification is enormous.

For most people, piercings are nothing more than a sign of immaturity, or worse, as a sign of a gang member or criminal. But in reality, all of these piercings have rich, diverse backgrounds all around the world, and have been since the beginning of civilization for beauty, spirituality or just personal reasons. As such, they should be given the respect they deserve. Work cited:http://info.painfulpleasures.com/help-center/piercing-information/history-body-piercings