The Art of Body Piercing

May 7, 2007 – 10:35 am

The Art of Body Piercing [[Body piercing]] is one of the ancient and widespread types of body art. It is known to have started by the Romans by nipple piercing to show their bravery and also as a practical means of fastening their cloak. Victorian society girls also had their nipples pierced to enhance its size. In Borneo, genital piercing like the apadravya and ampallang was started by the Karma Sutra. For the Carafa Indians in South America, wearing a thin cane in the lower lip shows that they are at the prime of their lives. In Africa, the women bring piercing to a different level and size since history has shown that multiple and large piercing discourages slave trade.

Most piercing of primitive societies is done to signify their status within a tribe, a rite of passage, or as a talisman to chase bad spirits away. Nowadays, in spite of the vast difference between cultures and beliefs, us having easy access to the latest technology, still rely on piercing to fulfill ourselves as social animals for the continuity of a certain way of life. The increase in piercing and tattooing popularity is a response to the disposable mentality of fashion and consumerism.

Body piercing was pioneered in the UK by Alex Sebastian. In the 1950’s, while working in his field, he came across a couple of helpers who had gold rings in their nipples. Since he was curious about it, he began to ask around and was introduced to a local man who did some piercing. He tried having the piercing and it healed. When he returned to England, he tried some other piercing on himself. Soon enough, people got curious as to where he was able to get those piercings and asked if he would be willing to do it for them. This became the start of his career as one of the country’s first and most respected body piercers.
The Art of Body Piercing The Art of Body Piercing The Art of Body Piercing

Among the ancient Egyptians, to get a piercing in your navel is equivalent to being royalty. This is why commoners are not allowed to get pierced. Prince Albert was reported to have a piercing through his penis, also called a dress ring by Victorian haberdashers since this is originally done to firmly place the penis in place by either the left of right trouser leg. It was because of the craze for extremely tight trousers that Prince Albert was rumored to pierce his penis. Other piercings of the male genitalia is used as a means of discipline. Arab youths have a piercing on the left side of their scrotum which is believed to prevent the testis from returning the body. This practice also came from North Africa. Female genital piercings developed later and is used for erotic stimulation although in some African tribes, it is also used as a form of discipline. Nowadays, it is used for erotic stimulation.

Most tribal cultures employ the piercing of the ear lobe and ear rim with ear lob stretching see among the people of Northern India, Burma, ancient Egypt, and other African tribes. Ivory ear plugs are also used by the African Samburu warrior and the Masai and Pokot tribes wear many rigns in their stretched earlobes.

Girls from the African Dogon, Kudi, and Lobi tribes get to have ear, nose and lip piercings to enable them to wear ornaments which will identify their tribe and protect them from bad spirits. In India, nose rings are the trend which became popular among the mughals, indicating whether the man or woman is single or married. African Pokot girls wear lip plugs when they are married, which is also done by Turkama men and women. Lip plugs are also worn by some men of the Amazonian tribe to show their status wherein the elders have bigger plugs or plates every year.

Nunivak tribes of North America wear lip or labret piercings while silver jewelry was worn in the septums of the Clayoquot tribes to denote status. Other septum piercings, gilded with plant stems and bone jewelry are worn by tribesmen of Papua New Guinea. Piercing located in the eyebrow, tongue and ear are modern practices developed in the west.

Nowadays, people are becoming more aware of tribal societies that still exist in their culture and who still practice their distinct customs and traditions. They would like to apply what they have learned about these societies by the rituals they perform like tattooing and piercing. Unfortunately, although piercing is become more popular in the west, the third world countries are slowly forgetting their own ancient tribal customs to be able to take on western standards.

Two main schools of thought have been discussed on to how modern body piercing came about. The US version recognizes the contributions of Doug Malloy and Jim Ward in the field of body piercing while the version of the United Kingdom recognizes Mr. Sebastian. The three have documented the development of piercing and its expansion from the homosexual and sadomasochistic communities in the US. In the United Kingdom, piercing was originally exclusive to various fringe groups, such as the punks, the travelers, and members of the sadomasochistic scene although they are not the only ones who practice body piercing.

Three to four years ago, a sudden change happened in the nature of body piercing, caused by several factors but most significantly, the adapting of navel and eyebrow piercing by the fashion world. Because the use of these piercings are made public on British television, it dictated to the general public that piercing is fashionable. Secondly, it opened the possibility of going to extremes with body piercing, as opposed to fashion. And thirdly, those who have been practicing piercing on their body for several years have become aware that the practice of body piercing is already widespread.

Before undertaking this procedure, there are just a few suggestions to remember. Make sure that the tattoo artist you go to is reputable and clean. His instruments should be sterilized properly so as to lower the risk of infection. And, as with any procedure concerning the body, make sure that other safety precautions are made before you push through with the piercing.

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  1. 24 Responses to “The Art of Body Piercing”

  2. umm thanx for the article it helped a lot with my school paper

    By shelby on Feb 21, 2008

  3. thanks,
    this’ll probably help me pass history class
    ^_^

    By Ekho on Apr 9, 2008

  4. Thank you Also helped me pass history :p

    By Tony on May 1, 2008

  5. this is awesome stuff…….
    great info…….
    keep up the good work…….
    this saved my education

    By Blake on May 29, 2008

  6. THANKS,
    With out this I probably would be failing in my college career.

    By Kym on Jun 23, 2008

  7. THANKS A LOT!!!

    I managed to get an A+ for my project!!!

    By KMan on Sep 20, 2008

  8. that was great, but its been proven that the romans did not use nipple piercings to hold their cloaks

    By barrie on Sep 29, 2008

  9. >> it helps me a lot about my project and research…. tnx a lot

    By stephanie on Dec 14, 2008

  10. this helped alot with my research paper i needed to graduate with (//_^) ??

    By Jes on Mar 6, 2009

  11. This site is great, it helped me out a lot with my English paper. It had a lot of interesting information, and my teacher gave me an a.

    By Harley on Apr 8, 2009

  12. this site helped me when i was doing my reseach on body piercing…

    By mago on May 13, 2009

  13. nice info…its nice to know where some piercings started

    By Symone on Aug 1, 2009

  14. Sweet. This helped me with my Humanities term paper and with my job as a piercing apprentice. ^.))

    By Cactus on Nov 3, 2009

  15. thanks man, this helped a lot with my project, too.
    too bad I need seven other sources lol

    By Summer on Nov 4, 2009

  16. yeah, i added some of this into my speech paper and i also cited you. thanks for sharing your knowledge.

    By Emily on Mar 2, 2010

  17. awesome just awesome

    By DarkSoul on Apr 16, 2010

  18. Hey, this helped … thanks now i need more sources for this report.

    By Evy on May 10, 2010

  19. Great content with many facts, Help me to to counter check facts stated in other websites content pages.

    Thank you.

    By Jayaarram on Jul 23, 2010

  20. Wow this was an awesome article. I have my belly button, labret, right side of my nose, septum, and ears gauged to 5/8″. It was really cool to learn about where all of these piercings originated from and what they symbolize. Thanks for all this information! Very interesting.

    By Stephanie on Nov 15, 2010

  21. well if every ones got a good review i might have to use some of this in my research paper.

    By that one dude on Nov 24, 2010

  22. While appreciate you posting this in an attempt to help people out it is far too disjointed and often misinformed to site as source material for any research project.

    By Roshomon on Mar 11, 2011

  23. Dope shit, I needed this info for a presentation for my anthropology class. Thanx and well done. Looking foward to more articles in the future.

    By sonnu on Nov 29, 2011

  24. sorry about the comment above, I got cut off. I was saying that this post was great and usefull. I look foward to more like it in the future.

    By ssosonnuu on Nov 29, 2011

  25. Great post, looking to more in the future.

    By sonnu on Nov 29, 2011

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