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February 21, 2019

Often an initiation rite or to demonstrate a hierarchy within ethnic groups, piercings have been traveling through time. There are  many types of piercings, nose, ears, navel, ….

Piercings around the world

Straight to the pyramids to discover the origin of navel piercing. An ornament intended only for Pharaohs and royal families.

Piercing comes to us from tribal origins like tattooing and scarification. In many tribes these practices were used for purely aesthetic reasons or for rituals to affirm their belonging to a particular tribe, as well as their hierarchical position.

Nose: There are 2 piercings on the nose. Coming from the religious and cultural practices of the indigenous tribes of America and India, it was common to see this piercing among men and women who wore it as a religious symbol and to represent their civil status. Nowadays, it is common in the faces of recognized artists and people who wear it for style or to be fashionable.

  • Nosetril : Indian and Pakistani women are known for their pierced nostrils. In the Amazon, there are also men, especially in the Cashinawa tribe, carrying feathers in their noses. It was mainly reserved for the upper castes. It arrived in Europe during the hippy years, when the cool baba came to seek a new spirituality in Goa or elsewhere.

  • Septum: This piercing is performed in the central gosling of the nose. In New Guinea, the Papuans wore bone or wooden jewellery. A ring or horseshoe can be placed on it.

Lips: The entire lip contour can be devotional. Some places have special names. for African tribes, lip piercing was a way of imitating their Gods, so the implementation of these was exaggerated. They are worn in several shapes: in the middle of the lip, on one side or underneath it.

Labret (lower lip): The Eskimos sometimes wore a bone jewel under the lower lip. The same practice is found among some African and Amazonian tribes, but with wooden jewellery. Some tribes pierce their lower lip and enlarge the hole to insert a wooden tray.

Madonna: This piercing is done above the lip to give the illusion of a fly.

Medusa: This piercing is done from the lip above the nose.

Tongue: This practice is said to be inspired by a Mayan ritual in Central and South America. In the days of the Aztecs and the Mayans, priests pierced their tongues to communicate with the gods. It’s also symbol for the pacts and communications with the Gods of the indigenous Mesoamerican and North American tribes. They were the first to wear them here and once the tongue was pierced, blood was used to perform the rituals. Today, wearing a tongue piercing has a sexual connotation, since it represents sensuality and has a stimulating effect during intimate intercourse.

Ear: Since the dawn of humanity, women and men have pierced their earlobes. In the majority of primitive tribes, the holes are gradually widened by the wearing of jewellery of ever-increasing diameter. There are also cases of cartilage piercing, especially among the Massais in Africa. It is also possible to pierce all the folds of the ear. It was also commonly  worn by sailors. This piercing was supposed to improve vision by passing through a meridian energy point. (It hasn’t been proven!)

Belly button: According to Doug Malloy, one of the precursors of piercing in the USA, the wearing of jewellery on a belly button would go back to ancient Egypt. This information has not been confirmed. On the other hand, he would have discovered this practice in Hawaii at the beginning of the 20th century. It is the most used and preferred piercing for women, this piercing expresses the sensuality and beauty of the woman.

Nipple: Still according to Doug Malloy, nipple piercing is thought to have its origins in the early Christian era in some Roman legionaries. This practice also appeared to be in effect in Queen Victoria’s court. It also comes from Central America, where the population used it during the rite of passage as an adult.

Arcade piercing: despite its popularity among men, women also wear them. We pierce our arches vertically, horizontally and diagonally. It is also considered a symbol of revolt, freedom and trust. But I didn’t find any tribal origins.

The use of this accessory dates back to the time of ancient civilizations, such as the Mayans and Aztecs, who used it to perform religious practices to honour and thank their Gods.                             The use and meaning of piercings can be related to religious, cultural or simply fashion, the latter being the most common. The current influence and popularity of piercings has aroused the interest of many people to adopt them as a decorative symbol. Now piercing has become a fashion that too often is worn by individuals without real traits of character; for others piercing is equivalent to something frightening.

As you can see, piercing has a valuable history in its use, so if you want to wear one, it is recommended to take into account the chosen body part and its meaning.


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