HISTORY OF PIERCING
Body piercing has been around for many years, well before the beginning of our recorded history. It has just recently become a widespread presence and gained popularity. Piercing has been traced back as far as 5000 years. Piercing the body is one of the most interesting forms of body modification. The reasons are as diverse at the cultures they comes from. Piercing has been practiced by many cultures for many centuries. It was often associated with wealth and courage. Recently body piercing has become ever so popular in the western world. Becoming more and more excepted in our everyday society. Academic researcher Anne Velliquette observes, “Today’s social climate welcomes body art to an extent that no other period in modern history can rival.” Your body is the one thing you have ultimate control over. Tattoos are a way of committing to something permanent and stable, of recording who and what you are right now. . . . The traditional stereotype is gone. Body piercing has been even more taboo than tattooing in the United States, as many people still associate the practice with sadomasochism or other margin
NOSE PIERCING HISTORY
Nose piercing is very attractive, and can accentuate the face, because the nose is the face’s most prominent feature; Leonardo Da Vinci believed that the nose set the character of the whole face. Nose piercing was first recorded in the Middle East aproximately 4,000 years ago, it is mentioned in The Bible in Genesis 24:22 Abraham requested his oldest servant to find a wife for his son Isaac, the servant found Rebekah, and one of the gifts he gave her was a “golden earring” the original Hebrew word used was Shanf, which also translates as “nose-ring”. This practice is still followed among the nomadic Berber and Beja tribes of Africa, and the Bedouins of the Middle East, the size of the ring denotes the wealth of the family. It is given by the husband to his wife at the marriage, and is her security if she is divorced. Nose piercing was bought to India in the 16th Century from the Middle East by the Moghul emperors. In India a stud (Phul) or a ring (Nath) is usually worn in the left nostril, It is sometimes joined to the ear by a chain, and in some places both nostrils are pierced. The left side is the most common to be pierced in India, because that is the spot associated in Ayuvedra (Indian medicine) with the female reproductive organs, the piercing is supposed to make childbirth easier and lessen period pain. In the west nose piercing first appeared among the hippies who travelled to India in the Late 1960’s. It was later adopted by the Punk movement of the late 1970’s as a symbol of rebellion against conservative values, and conservative people like parents and employers still don’t react well to it, so consider their reaction carefully before getting it done. Nowadays nose piercing is gradually becoming more socially acceptable, and many celebrities have their nose pierced i.e. Madonna, Lenny Kravitz, Sinead O’Connor, and Slash from Guns & Roses.
TONGUE PIERCING HISTORY
Tongue piercing was practised in a ritual form by the ancient Aztecs, Mayas of Central America and the Haida, Kwakiutul, and Tlinglit tribes of the American Northwest. The tongue was pierced to draw blood to propitiate the gods, and to create an altered state of consciousness so that the priest or shaman could communicate with the gods. Tongue piercing is one of the most popular piercings, it’s shocking, provocative and fantastic for oral sex (for both sexes), but at the same time no one need know you have it. Janet Jackson, Keith Flint from Prodigy, Mel B from the Spice Girls and Malcolm Jamahl Warner from the Cosby show all sport pierced tongues.
EAR LOBE PIERCING HISTORY
The ear-lobe was probably man’s first attempt at body piercing due to the ease with which it can be pierced. The oldest mummified body in the world was found frozen in an Austrian Glacier in 1991, tests showed the body to be over 5,000 years old. The body had pierced ears and the holes had been enlarged to 7-11mm diameter. Ears were probably first pierced for magical purposes, very many primitive tribes believe that demons can enter the body through the ear, because demons and spirits are supposed to be repelled by metal, ear-piercing prevents them entering the body. Sailors used to have an ear pierced to improve eyesight, and if the bodies washed up somewhere it would pay for a christian burial. In many societies ear piercing is done as a puberty ritual, in Borneo the Mother and Father each pierce one ear as a symbol of the child’s dependance on their parents. Ear piercing is an almost universal practice for men and women, it’s only in western society that it’s deemed effeminate. At various times in history men wore elaborate earrings; during the Elizabethan era many famous men such as Shakespeare, Sir Walter Raliegh and Francis Drake wore gold rings in their ears. “As the Roman Republic grew more effeminate with wealth and luxury, earrings were more popular among men than women; no less a he-man than Julius Caesar brought back to repute and fashion the use of rings in the ears of men.” “Jewels & Women; The Romance, Magic and Art of Feminine Adornment” Marianne Ostier, Horizon Press, New York, 1958
LIP LABRET PIERCING HISTORY
The piercing of the lips for the insertion of objects into them is very widely practised throughout the world, however only two tribes pierce the lips with a ring; the Dogon tribe Of Mali, and the Nuba of Ethiopia. Among the Dogon the piercing of the lip has religious signifigance, they believe that the world was created by their ancestor spirit “Noomi” weaving thread through her teeth, but instead of thread out came speech. All the other lip piercing that is practised in the world is done with labrets, which can either be a pin of wood, ivory, metal, or even in one case quartz crystals. Among the tribes of Central Africa, and South America the Labret piercing is stretched to extremely large proportions, and large wooden or clay plates are inserted. Among the ancient Aztecs and Mayans labret piercing was reserved for male members of the higher castes, they wore beautiful labrets fashioned from pure gold in the shape of serpents, golden labrets with stones inset and ones of jade or obsidion (labret in Aztec “Tentetl”). The Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest, and the Inuit peoples of northern Canada and Alaska wore labrets fahioned from walrus ivory, abalone shell, bone, obsidian, and wood. The Makololo tribe of Malawi wear lip plates in the upper lip called Pelele. The African explorer Dr. Livingstone asked a chief the reason for this, in surprise the chief 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 Pelele ? She would not be a woman at all.” “The plug of wood in the lips, which became little by little a disk, and then a real plaque, was in some manner a sign of possession of the husband of the Djinja woman. It is the man who is to marry her, and very often him alone who operates, transfixing the lips of the young girl with a blade of straw forms the first sign of the deformation to which she will be subject as an adult. It is in sum, a betrothal rite.” Dr. Muraz reffering to the Saras-Djinjas tribe, who insert lip plates up to 24cm in diameter in both lips. Chari River South of Lake Chad in “Nudity to Raiment” Hilaire Hiler London 1929
SEPTUM PIERCING HISTORY
The piercing of the septum is probably the second most common piercing among primitive peoples after ear piercing, it’s even more common than nostril piercing. It’s probably so popular for the same reasons as nose piercing, with the added attraction that the piercing can be stretched and large pieces of jewellery can be inserted, i.e. pig’s tusks, pieces of bone, feathers, pieces of wood, etc. The septum piercing is particularly prevalent among warrior cultures, this probably has to do with the fact that large tusks through the septum give the face a fierce appearance. The use of septum tusks is very prevalent in Irian Jaya, New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, pig’s tusks being the most popular. Among the Asmat tribe of Irian Jaya the most prestigous septum tusk is the “Otsj” this is a large bone plug, which can be as thick as 25mm. They are usually made of the leg bones of a pig, but occasionally they are made from the Tibia bone of an enemy slain in battle. The Septum piercing was beloved by the Aztecs, the Mayans, and the Incas. They wore a variety of jewellery, but jade and gold were the most popular because of their religous associations. The modern day Cuna Indians of Panama continue this practice by wearing thick pure gold rings in their septum. The piercing is also popular in India, Nepal, and Tibet, a pendant “Bulak” is worn, and some examples are so large as to prevent the person being able to eat, the jewellery has to be lifted up during meals. In Rajasthan in Himachal Pradesh these Bulak are particularly elaborate, and extremely large. Septum piercing was widely practised by many North American Indian tribes, the name of the Nez Perc, tribe of Washington state, stem from their practice of piercing the septum, Nez Perc, is French for Nose Pierced, and was given to the tribe by the French fur traders. Australian aboriginals pierced the septum and passed a long stick or bone through the piercing to flatten the nose, they believed a flat nose to be the most desireable. Among the Bundi tribe of the Bismarck Ranges of Papua New Guinea the piercing is performed using the thin end of the Sweet Potato plant (Ogai Iriva), usually at age 18-22. The age at which the piercing is done varies greatly between different tribes, some tribes perform the rite at age 9-10. “You were lost in the bush and now you have come back. You have come back mature; you are men. When you return to your hamlet many girls will come after you. But if you have lived well, and if they come after you, all the well. You will now have your noses pierced to allow you to sing with girls and lead a life like that of your elders. Your (Kangi Poroi) caused you to go to all this trouble, now it will be over.” Source: Address by tribal elder to young men undergoing the (Kangi Poroi) manhood ritual. Source: Field notes of David G. Fitzpatrick 1977 in “Bundi, the culture of Papua New Guinea people” Ryebuck Publications, Nerang Queensland Australia 1983
THE HISTORY OF NAVEL PIERCING
Navel piercing is a modern invention and has never been recorded in primitive cultures; however the navel has long been recognised as an erogenous zone, because of the difference between men’s and women’s stomachs. Women’s stomachs differ from men’s in that they are more rounded in the lower part, are longer than men’s, have a greater distance between the navel and genitals, and are more deeply recessed than men’s; these features are often exaggerated by artists to make women appear more feminine in paintings. The invention of the Bikini in 1953 caused a big stir because the navel was seen as being sexually provocative because of it’s similarity to the female genitals. The Bikini revolutionised women’s lives, along with the liberation of their clothes their lives in general became more liberated. The process was completed when Madonna started the craze for showing of the midriff in the 1980’s. The ability to flaunt their sexuality in public gave women more power and confidence in themselves. “It is easy to pinpoint the moment when body piercing went mainstream. Christy Turlinton came out at a London Fashion show, and in the middle of her navel was a ring! The next day Naomi Campbell showed the world that anything Christy could do, so could she. A gold ring with a small pearl pierced her navel. And then at Isaac Mizrahi’s show the two came out together, navels bared and beringed: body piercing as a Supermodel totem” Suzy Menkes The New York Times September 1994 “I have the most perfect belly button – an inny. When I stick my finger in my belly button, I feel a nerve in the centre of my body shoot up my spine” Madonna Time Magazine 1985 “I like it, I think it’s fun!” Naomi Campbell. “I always thought it was a pretty feminine thing to do – and you can always take it out” Christy Turlington. Shortly after Naomi and Christy had their navels pierced no one was surprised when Madonna, Cher and Janet Jackson were seen wearing navel rings. Now anybody can joins the ranks of Celebrities and Supermodels by having their navel pierced.
CLITORIS HOOD PIERCING HISTORY
The word Kleitoris was used over 2,500 thousand years ago by the ancient Greeks to describe a part of the female genitals, most probably the Labia Minora or Inner lips of the Vagina. In 1593 at the trial of a woman accused of witchcraft, the inquisitor (a married man) discovered a Clitoris for the first time. When he saw this “little lump of flesh sticking out to the length of half an inch” he decided that it must be the “Devil’s Teat”. The other inquisitors, likewise astounded, agreed and on this fact the woman was convicted and executed for witchcraft. The word “Clitoris” first appeared in the English language in 1615, it was used in an early anatomy book to describe a small, sensitive organ located underneath the upper apex of the Labia Minora.
FRAENULUM PIERCING HISTORY
The piercing of the Fraenulum is probably the second-most popular male genital piercing, it is usually incorrectly referred to as a “Frenum” piercing but this an abbreviated version of the true word Fraenulum . The Fraenulum is the small ridge of flesh joining the foreskin to the Glans of the penis, in most cases circumcision removes or destroys it, however in rare cases it still exists after circumcision. I can only find one account of it occurring amongst tribal people. “Amongst the Timorese of Indonesia, the Frenulum beneath the glans penis is pierced with brass rings, the function of the ring is to enhance stimulation during sex.” Die kunstlichen Verunstaltungen des Korpers bei den Batta. Zeitschrift fur Ethnologie 16:217-225 1884.
PRINCE ALBERT PIERCING HISTORY
The Prince Albert piercing is named after Prince Albert who was the husband of Queen Victoria of England. He was reputeded to have had this piercing done prior to his marriage to the queen around 1825, at that time Beau Brummel started the craze for ultra tight mens trousers. Because the pants were so tight, the penis needed to be held to one side or the other so as not to create an unsightly bulge. To accomplish this some men had their penis pierced to allow it to be held by a hook on the inside of the trousers, this piercing was called a “Dressing Ring” at the time because tailors would ask if a gentleman dressed to the left or the right and tailor the trousers accordingly, tailors to this day will ask if you dress to the left or right.
The Prince Albert Piercing is very effective for sex, that is why it is the most popular male genital piercing. It provides greater stimulation to both partners during sex, and it has the added allure of being being somewhat kinky, people always have to wonder what it would be like to have sex with someone with a genital piercing. On top of all that it makes the penis more aesthetically attractive, in the same way as jewellery worn on the fingers.
FORESKIN PIERCING (INFIBULATION)
The practice of piercing of the foreskin for the insertion of jewellery is as old as circumcision, and is of immemorial antiquity, going back far beyond the earliest recorded history. During the games of Ancient Greece, the athletes performed nude, and to prevent their penises moving about they bound the foreskin with a ribbon and tied it to the base of the penis. This ribbon. or leather thong was called the “Kynodesme” from the Greek “Kuon” foreskin, and “Desmos” fastening band. This temporary practice probably led to the permanent piercing of the foreskin, either to prevent slaves and athletes from having sex, or to prevent them from having erections. The Roman’s used a practice called Infibulation, it involved two piercings going through the foreskin (or Labia in women) and a lock (Fibula) being placed therein. The Roman historian Mensius declares that Infibulation may be traced back to the time of the siege of Troy (12th Century BC) for he points out that according to “The Odyssey” (Bk. VIII, Line 477) Agamemnon departed for the Trojan War, and left his wife Clytemnestra, in the care of the singer Demodecus, seeing that he had been infibulated. The prevalence of the practice is attested to by the number of references to it, to be found in ancient writings. The roman writers Juvenal, Martial, Strabo, Fallopio, and Hieronymus Mercurialis all make mention of the practice. The piercing process is described in detail by the famous 1st Century Roman physician Celsus, in his treatise on medicine “De Medecina”
PALANG & APADRAVYA PIERCING HISTORY
The piercing of the Glans of the Penis for the insertion of jewellery is a very ancient practice, the Apadravya piercing is mentioned in the Kama Sutra (700AD) and the Palang piercing has been practised in SE Asia for several hundred years. Several genital piercings originate in Asia where piercing has been practised since antiquity, the following quote, from “The Kama Sutra” describes the process for the piercing of an Apadravya, or a vertical barbell through the glans of the Penis. “The people of the southern countries think that true sexual pleasure cannot be obtained without perforating the Lingam, and they therefore cause it to be pierced like the lobes of the ears of an infant pierced for earrings.” The Palang (often incorrectly called Ampallang) is a piercing that occurred among the Kayan, Kenyah, Kelabit, Dayak, and Iban tribes of Sarawak on the Island of Borneo. It involves piercing the Glans of the Penis horizontally, and the insertion of a barbell. The term “Palang” translates as “Crossbar” in Iban and can be related to the timber roof supports of the longhouses of the tribes of the area, and symbolises the protective power of the male over the family. “the operation is performed only on adults. The skin is forced back, the penis is placed between two small planks of bamboo and for ten days and it is covered with rags dipped in cold water. Then the glans is perforated with a sharp bamboo needle; a feather dipped in oil, is placed in the wound until it heals. Wet compresses are used all the while. When the Dayaks travel and work they carry a feather in this canal. As soon as they grow desirous, they pull the feather out and replace it with the ampallang. The ampallang is a little rod of copper, silver or gold, four centimetres long and two millimetres thick. At one end of this rod is a round ball or pear-formed object made of metal; at the other end a second ball is placed as soon as the ampallang is affixed. The whole apparatus is, when ready, five centimetres long and five millimetres thick…. Von Graffin has seen one Dayak who had two ampallangs, one behind the other! The perforation was always horizontal and above the urethra…. The women of the Dayaks say the embrace without this ornament is like rice, but with it, it tastes like rice with salt. Mantegazza, Sexual Relations of Mankind “The function of this device is, superficially, is to add to the sexual pleasure of the women by stimulating and extending the inner walls of the vagina. It is, in this, in my experience decidedly successful.” Tom Harrisson, The Sarawak Museum Journal Vol VII, December 1956.
HISTORY OF NIPPLE PIERCING
Roman Centurions wore leather armour breast plates which were shaped to fit the body and rings were sometimes placed in these breastplates where the nipples appeared to be, the rings were used to hang a cape from. This has led to the belief by some people that the actual nipples were pierced to hang a cape from, but anybody who has had their nipples pierced would tell you that this would be a very uncomfortable practice. “In the middle of the 14th century…Many women suddenly wore ‘such low necklines that you could see nearly half their breasts’, and among the upper classes in the same century, Queen Isabella of Bavaria introduced the ‘Garments of the grand neckline’, where the dress was open to the navel. This fashion eventually led to the application of rouge to freely displayed nipples, those ‘little apples of paradise’ and to placing diamond studded rings or small caps on them, even to piercing them and passing gold chains through them decorated with diamonds” “Dreamtime” Hans Peter Duerr In the late 1890s the ‘Bosom Ring’, came into fashion briefly, and sold in expensive Parisian jewellery shops. These ‘Anneux De Sein’ were inserted through the nipple, and some women wore on either side linked with a delicate chain. The rings enlarged the nipples and kept them in a state of constant excitation…the medical community was outraged by these cosmetic procedures, for they represented a rejection of traditional conceptions of the purpose of a woman’s body.” “Anatomy & Destiny” Stephen Kern “For a long time I could not understand why I should consent to such a painful operation without sufficient reason. I soon, however came to the conclusion that many ladies are ready to bear the passing pain for the sake of love. I found that the breasts of those who wore rings were incomparably rounder and fuller developed than those who did not. My doubts were now at an end…so I had my nipples pierced, and when the wounds were healed, I had rings inserted…with regard to the experience of wearing these rings, I can only say that they are not in the least uncomfortable or painful. On the contrary, the slight rubbing and slipping of the rings causes in me an extremely titillating feeling, and all my colleagues I have spoken to on this subject have confirmed my opinion.” London socialite writing in “Vogue” 1890 Nipple piercing was once practised by the Karankawa indians of Texas adn is still practised in the Mountains of Algeria, by women of the nomadic Kabyle tribe. In the west nipple piercing has made a resurgence, with many famous people having their nipples pierced ie. Lenny Kravitz, Jaye Davidson (The Crying Game), Gerry Connelly (Comedian), Tommy Lee (Drummer Motley Crue- Husband of Pamela Stephenson Baywatch) and Axl Rose (Guns & Roses). BENEFITS The benefits of having your nipple pierced are the same today as they were for the fashionable ladies of Paris and London in the 1890s. It makes the nipples larger, more sensitive, more sexually attractive, and provides a constant stimulation of the nipples, one friend of mine describes his nipple piercing as “a lightswitch for an erection”. Nipple piercing is very effective for increasing the size of small nipples (especially men’s), and can stop nipples from becoming inverted by pulling them out. In fact, it was recommended by doctors in Victorian England to increase the size of the nipples to make breastfeeding easier. It provides greater sexual pleasure because it gives your partner something to play with during sex.
GUICHE (geesh) PIERCING HISTORY
The word “Guiche” is supposed to mean an opening in French, the actual translation is “window”. This piercing is supposed to be a Samoan puberty ritual, but Derek Freeman Professor Emeritus of the Anthropology Department of The Australian National University, one of the world”s foremost authorities on Samoa informed me that he had no experience of this practice in Samoa. The puberty ritual practised in Samoa is subincision, this is where the underneath of the foreskin is cut down to the fraenulum. Professor Freeman stated that this practice has never existed in Samoa, and if it had in the past he would have been aware of it. Doug Malloy Travelled to Tahiti just before WW2, where he met an Australian sailor who had jumped ship named Reggie Jones. Reggie told Doug about the piercing, and performed the piercing for him. Doug Malloy said that this piercing originated in Tahiti, the piercing was done at age 12-14 and a leather thong inserted into the piercing, a small weight either a rock or a shell was hung from the thong once the piercing was healed. The procedure was performed by a “Mahu”, in Tahiti a Mahu is a transvestite male who has taken on the role of a women, they are highly respected members of society, and they were said to possess magical powers by adherants of the ancient Tahitian religion. However, again I can find no evidence of this practice in any literature about Tahiti. The ancient Polynesian mariners used to judge their direction by the movement of the waves, the best way to do this was to squat down and feel this movement through the swinging of the testicles. The Raphe Perineum where the Guiche piercing is done is the site of a large amount of nerves, and having a weight hanging from the piercing could possibly have helped the ancient mariners derive their direction, but this is only speculation on my part.
HAFADA (SCROTUM) PIERCING
The Hafada piercing is a scrotum piercing on the side of the scrotum, where there is a crease. It is supposed to have originated in Arabia and spread through Northern Africa and the Middle East. The piercing is carried out as a puberty ritual, it is generally done on the left hand side. The piercing was supposedly bought back to Europe by French Foriegn Legionares when they were stationed in what is now Lebanon and Syria. Scrotum piercings aren’t practised by any primitive tribes, at least I can’t find any evidence of such practices, it’s really a modern western invention. Some people have an incredible number of piercings through their scrotum, Sailor Sid one of the early piercers had 120 scrotum piercings at the time of his death, and he planned to have more. ©Cheyenne Morrison, The Piercing Temple, Australia 98.