History of Body Piercings (and interesting pictures too!)

September 15, 2006

Now that I’ve covered the history of tattoos, let’s move on to body piercings.

Body piercings can be almost (if not more) intimidating than tattoos. Most people – women at least – have had their ears pierced. However, most would still cringe at the thought of having a needle shoved through any other part of their face. Body piercings have gained popularity in the last ten to twenty years, but they have been a part of many cultures throughout time.

The oldest pierced individual ever found was a 5,000 year old mummy who had plugs in his ears. It is a widely-known fact that ancient Egyptians loved to adorn their bodies with jewelry. Certain types of body peircings were even restricted to the royal family only, and anyone else could be executed for it.

The Romans often pierced their nipples as a sign of strength and dedication. Even Julius Caesar had pierced nipples.

Some American Indians, the Aztecs, and the Maya pierced their tongues as a part of their religious rituals. They also pierced their septums (the chunk of cartilage between your nostrils) to make themselves look more intimidating towards their enemies.

In South and Central America, women with pierced lips were seen as more attractive.

And then the Dark Ages came. The Catholic church said that piercings were sinful, and the popularity died down. However, they returned with the Renaissance.

In modern times in the Western world, body piercings have usually been limited to the ears. Then the “hippies” came along with their nose piercings (which had previously been worn mostly in India). In the 1980s and 90s, piercings of all kinds became popular, and remain so to this day.

So there is the history, but the question remains. Why? Perhaps it has the same reasons as tattoos. People like to express themselves and try to be unique. There are so many different kinds of piercings to do so with, and more continue being discovered. The feeling of getting a piercing is completely different from a tattoo; some say the two aren’t even comparable. The pain may be more intense, but it’s over with sooner and it quickly numbs down to sheer sensitivity.

Some people use body piercings to enhance their features, while others simply strive to obtain as many piercings as possible.

So that’s that, now let’s get to the interesting stuff!

Eyelid Piercing
Overly Pierced Man
Tongue and nostril piercing
Belly Button Piercing
Lip Piercings
Septum Piercing

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4 Responses to “History of Body Piercings (and interesting pictures too!)”

  1. love2fish said

    Ok, so my ears are pierced. I had my girlfriend do it with an ice cube and needle when I was a teenager. I find it interesting how people react differently to body piercing. I personally have no problem with jewelry worn through the ears, eyebrow, lip or nose, but nipples and tongues I find objectionable. Why is it ok here, but not there?

    It is my observation that people with tongue jewelry tend to unconsciously play with them, resulting in a ‘cow chewing cud’ visual similar to chewing gum with your mouth open or having loose dentures. Nipples rings simply make me cringe, and I’m not at all sure why. You mentioned it was a sign of strength for the Romans. You would have to be strong to handle that kind of constant stimulation.

    My girlfriend was told not to wear her nose stud to work because it was unprofessional. It was a tiny diamond and hardly noticeable! What you wear and how you look with always be judged by some people. If it is important to your career choice, you may have to cover the tatoos or put the jewelry away until you get home.

    As for the Catholic Church and their concept of sin, Jesus was pierced and he loves all people.

  2. I also have my ears pierced and my cartilage. At my previous work they had rules about earrings and tatoos. If your ears were pierced you could only have one set in at a time and nose and tongue rings were unacceptable. I guess if I were a business owner I would set similar rules because the way your employees look sets the image for your business. I do not mind them otherwise.

  3. I have my ears pierced, but my fear of pain has prevented me from any other piercings or tattoos. Your history of piercing is interesting. I am aware that some cultures use it as a right-of-passage and as a status symbol. I find it very interesting that both men and women wore piercings in history. It wasn’t that long ago when it was unacceptable for men to wear piercings in our culture. Men couldn’t wear it as a person expression, it was always construed as anti-masculine and we all know where that always leads. I enjoy your pictures, expecially the one with the eyebrow piercing.

  4. kjamrozy said

    I have each of my ears pierced three times, but only one of them is pierced in the cartidge. That one was very painful. I also had my belly button pierced. It was one of the most painful things I have ever had done. It wasn’t the needle that hurt, but the hemostats they used to hold the skin that hurt so badly. That is something that I will never do again.

    The tongue piercing really worries me. My father is a dentist and said that one of the major arteries runs underneath your tongue in the center. I wouldn’t want to ever take the risk of bleeding to death if someone was off a little on my tongue piercing.

    At the company I used to work for, it was a policy that employees could not show any piercings other than ears. That is something that I think is pretty standard in the professional world.

    I think that is is a shame that people often judge a person by their “canvas”. I have a friend that is covered in tatoos and piercings, and he is the most gentle and kind spirit. When will society ever learn the old saying “don’t ever judge a book by its cover”?

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