Curiosity brought on by my daughters recent birthday gift of getting (wanting) her ears pierced again… she initially had them both pierced, however, the person that did it the first time, sadly made the 2nd ear all wonky and we allowed it to grow back… she was ready for it to be re-pierced.
So yesterday she got her 9th birthday gift from her mommy a few days early and was re-pierced. Today while we were talking she made me curious… she asked me about the history of piercing… and it got me wondering myself… so this is for myself, my daughter and anyone else… 🙂
**This post ended up being much longer then anticipated… my apologies for the details, but, I found that since piercing is so related to skin and skin care I wanted to go ahead and share the details I found about the history and the processes and the things to be aware of before and after having your desired body art done… hopefully it’s not to dry/dull and it helps you or someone with the information they never knew they wanted to know about piercing!
So let’s start with the easier part…
Ear piercing has been practiced all over the world since ancient times. There is considerable written and archaeological evidence of the practice. Mummified bodies with pierced ears have been discovered, including the oldest mummified body discovered to date, the 5,300 year-old Ötzi the Iceman, which was found in a Valentina Trujillon glacier in Austria. This mummy had an ear piercing 7–11 mm (1 to 000 gauge in American wire gauge) diameter.
The oldest earrings found in a grave date to 2500 BCE (25th Century BC). These were located in the Sumerian city of Ur, home of the Biblical patriarch Abraham. Earrings are even mentioned in the Bible. In Genesis 35:4, Jacob buries the earrings worn by members of his household along with their idols. In Exodus 32, Aaron makes the golden calf from melted earrings. Deuteronomy 15:12–17 dictates ear piercing for a slave who chooses not to be freed. Earrings are also referenced in connection to the Hindu goddess Lakshmi in the Vedas. Earrings for pierced ears were found in a grave in the Ukok region between Russia and China dated between 400 and 300 BCE.
Earrings were common in the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt (1550–1292 BCE), generally taking the form of a dangling, gold hoop. Gem-studded, golden earrings shaped like asps seem to have been reserved for nobility. The ancient Greeks wore paste pendant earrings shaped like sacred birds or demigods, while the women of ancient Rome wore precious gemstones in their ears. Among the Tlingit of the Pacific Northwest of America, earrings were a sign of nobility and wealth, as the placement of each earring on a child had to be purchased at an expensive potlatch.
According to The Anatomie of Abuses by Philip Stubbs, earrings were even more common among men of the 16th century than women, while Raphael Holinshed in 1577 confirms the practice among “lusty courtiers” and “gentlemen of courage“. Apparently originating in Spain, the practice of ear piercing among European men spread to the court of Henry III of France and then to Elizabethan era England, where earrings (typically worn in one ear only) were sported by such notables as Robert Carr, 1st Earl of Somerset, Shakespeare, Sir Walter Raleigh and Charles I of England. Males commoners were also known in this era to sport an earring as well.
From the European Middle Ages, a superstitious belief that piercing one ear improved long-distance vision led to the practice among sailors and explorers. Sailors also pierced their ears in the belief that their earrings could pay for a Christian burial if their bodies washed up on shore. (this explains the old saying that men wore them as proof of sailing the “seven seas”)
In Europe, earrings for women fell from fashion generally between the 4th and 16th centuries, as styles in clothing and hair tended to obscure the ears, but they gradually thereafter came back into vogue in Italy, Spain, England and France—spreading as well to North America—until after World War I when piercing fell from favor and the newly invented Clip-on earring became fashionable.
As you can see piercing of our ears has been around a VERY long time… and it does explain why sometimes in history that women were looked upon (depending on the era they were within) as “loose” or “harlot’s” if they were wearing earrings. I do know that often times if you were married in the early years of America it was more acceptable then if you were unmarried. I think it was more fear for some possibly, women pushing the envelope of independence and someone that wasn’t happy with said envelope being pushed chose to insult by pointing fingers towards another female to make them appear badly.
As I was reading and finding history on ear piercing… I was surprised to learn how old body art/piercing was. It’s been around nearly as long as ear piercing.
Nose piercing also has a long history. Ca. 1500 BCE, the Vedas refer to Lakshmi’s nose piercings, but modern practice in India is believed to have spread from the Middle Eastern nomadic tribes by route of the Mughal emperors in the 16th century. It remains customary for Indian Hindu women of childbearing age to wear a nose stud, usually in the left nostril, due to the nostril’s association with the female reproductive organs in Ayurvedic medicine. This piercing is sometimes done the night before the woman marries.
In Genesis 24:22, Abraham’s servant gave Rebecca a nose ring. Nose piercing has been practiced by the Bedouin tribes of the Middle East and the Berber and Beja peoples of Africa, as well as Australian Aborigines. Many Native American and Alaskan tribes practiced septum piercing. It was popular among the Aztecs, the Mayans and the tribes of New Guinea, who adorned their pierced noses with bones and feathers to symbolize wealth and (among men) virility. The name of the Nez Perce tribe was derived from the practice, though nose piercing was not common within the tribe. The Aztecs, Mayans and Incas wore gold septum rings for adornment, with the practice continued to this day by the Kuna of Panama. Nose piercing also remains popular in Pakistan and Bangladesh and is practiced in a number of Middle Eastern and Arabic countries.
Lip and Tongue
Lip piercing and lip stretching were historically found in African and American tribal cultures. Pierced adornments of the lip, or labrets, were sported by the Tlingit as well as peoples of Papua New Guinea and Amazonia. Aztecs and Mayans also wore labrets, while the Dogon people of Mali and the Nuba of Ethiopia wore rings. The practice of stretching the lips by piercing them and inserting plates or plugs were found throughout Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica and South America as well as among some of the tribes of the Pacific Northwest and Africa. In some parts of Malawi, it was quite common for women to adorn their lips with a lip disc called a “pelele” that by means of gradual enlargement from childhood could reach several inches of diameter and would eventually alter the occlusion of the jaw. Such lip stretching is still practiced in some places. Women of the Mursi of Ethiopia wear lip rings on occasion that may reach 15 centimetres (5.9 in) in diameter.
In some Pre-Columbian and North American cultures, labrets were seen as a status symbol. They were the oldest form of high status symbol among the Haida women, though the practice of wearing them died out due to Western influence.
Nipple, Navel and Genital
Records exist that refer to practices of nipple and genital piercing in various cultures prior to the 20th century. Kama Sutra, dated to the Gupta Empire of Ancient India, describes genital piercing to permit sexual enhancement by inserting pins and other objects into the foreskin of the penis. The Dayak tribesmen of Borneo passed a shard of bone through their glans for the opposite reason, to diminish their sexual activity. In the Talmud (Tractate Shabbat 24a), there may be mention of a genital piercing in the probition against the kumaz, which medieval French Talmudic commentary (Rashi) interpreted as a chastity piercing for women. Other interpreters have, however, suggested that the kumazwas rather a pendant shaped like a vulva or a girdle.
Nipple piercing may have been a sign of masculinity for the soldiers of Rome. Nipple piercing has also been connected to rites of passage for both British and American sailors who had traveled beyond a significant latitude and longitude. Western women of the 14th century sometimes sported nipple piercings as well as rouged nipples (Historically, it was assocatied with sex workers. Normally, you’d apply a thin lipstick or liquid rouge and rub it in). left visible by the low-cut dresses fashionable in the day. It is widely reported that in the 1890s, nipple rings called “bosom rings” resurfaced as a fashion statement among women of the West, who would wear them on one or both sides, but if such a trend existed, it was short-lived
Tongue piercing was practiced by the Aztec, Olmec and Mayan cultures as a ritual symbol. Wall paintings highlight a ritual of the Mayans during which nobility would pierce their tongues with thorns, collecting the blood on bark which would be burned in honor of the Mayan gods. It was also practiced by the Haida, Kwakiutl and Tlingit, as well as the Fakirs and Sufis of the Middle East.
The history of nipple, navel and genital piercing has been particularly misrepresented as many of the myths promulgated by Malloy in the pamphlet Body & Genital Piercing in Brief continue to be reprinted. For instance, according to Malloy’s colleague Jim Ward, Malloy claimed navel piercing was popular among ancient Egyptian aristocrats and was depicted in Egyptian statuary, a claim that is widely repeated. Other sources say there are no records to support a historical practice for navel piercing. 20th century inventions of piercing enthusiast Doug Malloy (Richard Simonton 1915–1979, also known under the pseudonym Doug Malloy). In the 1960s and 1970s, Malloy marketed contemporary body piercing by giving it the patina of history. His pamphlet Body & Genital Piercing in Brief included such commonly reproduced urban legends as the notion that Prince Albert invented the piercing that shares his name in order to tame the appearance of his large penis in tight trousers and that Roman centurions attached their capes to nipple piercings. Some of Malloy’s myths are reprinted as fact in subsequently published histories of piercing.
Body piercing was also heavily popularized in the United States by a group of Californians including Malloy and Ward, who is regarded as “the founding father of modern body piercing”. In 1975, Ward opened a home-based piercing business in West Hollywood, which was followed in 1978 by the opening of Gauntlet Enterprises, “the first professional body piercing specialty studio in America.”
Piercing in general has saw a great resurgence within the past 20 years, the generation “X” leading the way with following generations passing the torch and the desire to decorate permanently to ones body doesn’t seem to be changing anytime in the near future, in fact it seems we are only getting more creative on said piercings and how they are being done and placed in order to make even more creative art.
While the majority of people that choose this type of body art have their own reasons “why” they did it, most will concede it was “to express their individuality” among others.
As the art grows laws have been set in place and states continue to regulate how you can get pierced and by whom. More states are requiring not only an OSHA (Occupational, Safety and Health Administration), but also certain amount of hours worth of training and guidance under someone else that has done body art/piercing before you can be certified or licensed to practice on your own.
Being licensed and certified should cut down on the downside of what potentially can and will go wrong with any kind of piercing to ones body.
There are several items that are used for the different above mentioned piercings that you can get and that are available. Please read on if you are interested in what and how they are all used.
Permanent body piercings are performed by creating an opening in the body using a sharp object through the area to be pierced. This can either be done by puncturing an opening using a needle (usually a hollow medical needle) or scalpel or by removing tissue, either with a dermal punch or through scalpelling.
Tools used in body piercing include:
The standard method in the United States involves making an opening using a beveled-tip hollow medical needle, which is available in different lengths, gauges and even shapes. while straight needles are useful for many body parts, curved needles are manufactured for areas where straight needles are not ideal. The needle selected is typically the same gauge (or sometimes larger as with cartilage piercings) as the initial jewelry to be worn, with higher gauges indicating thinner needles.
Outside of the United States, many piercers use a needle containing a cannula (or catheter) , a hollow plastic tube placed at the end of the needle. In some countries, the piercing needle favored in the United States is regarded as a medical device and is illegal for body piercers.
A dermal punch is used to remove a circular area of tissue, into which jewelry is placed, and may be useful for larger cartilage piercings. These are not professionally favored or recommended, even for ears.
Piercing guns, which were originally developed for tagging livestock, are typically used for ear piercing, but may be used for other body parts as well. Piercing guns are generally not favored by professional body piercers. Guns use relatively blunt, solid studs that punch through tissue; thus they cause more trauma to tissue than proper piercing needles, which are sharp and hollow. They are also considered unsuitable for hygienic reasons.
may be placed on the opposite side of the body part being pierced to receive the needle.
Or clamps, may be used to hold and stabilize the tissue to be pierced. Most piercings that are stabilized with forceps use the triangular-headed “Pennington” forceps, while tongues are usually stabilized with an oval-headed forceps. Most forceps have large enough openings in their jaws to permit the needle and jewellery to pass directly through, though some slotted forceps are designed with a removable segment instead for removal after the piercing.
A hollow tube made of metal, shatter-resistant glass or plastic, needle receiving tubes, like forceps, are used to support the tissue at the piercing site and are common in septum and some cartilage piercings. Not only are these tubes intended to support the tissue, but they also receive the needle once it has passed through the tissue, offering protection from the sharp point.
Is supplied by some piercers, particularly in the United Kingdom and Europe. The anaesthesia may be topical or injected. Piercers and other non-medical personnel are not legally permitted to administer anaesthetics in the United States.
Risks associated with any body piercing
Body piercing is invasive and comes with risks. Even if you are properly caring for your recent piercing, you still could have complications that could result in a visit to your local doctor or even the hospital.
Some risks of note include:
- Allergic reaction to the metal in the piercing jewellery, particularly nickel. This risk can be minimized by using high quality jewellery manufactured from Titanium or Niobium or similar inert metals (Do not corrode when in contact with oxygenated water).
- Infection, bacterial or viral can be a hazard of your next body decoration. Risk of infection is greatest among those with: Congenital Heart Disease, those taking Corticosteroids, diabetics.
- Excess scar tissue, including hypertrophic scar and keloid formations. While piercings can be removed, they may leave a hole, mark or scar.
- Physical trauma including tearing, friction or bumping of the piercing site, which may cause edema and could delay healing.
- Oral trauma, including recession of gingival tissue and dental fracture and wear. Recession of gingival tissue affects 19% to 68% of subjects with lip and/or intra-oral ornaments. In some cases, the alveolar tooth-bearing bone is also involved, jeopardizing the stability and durability of the teeth in place and requiring a periodontal regeneration surgery.
The healing process and body piercing aftercare
The aftercare process for body piercing has evolved gradually through practice,and many myths and harmful recommendations persist. A reputable piercing studio should provide clients with written and verbal aftercare instructions, as is in some areas mandated by law.
The healing process of piercings is broken down into three stages:
- The inflammatory phase: during which the wound is open and bleeding, inflammation and tenderness are all to be expected;
- The growth or proliferative phase: during which the body produces cells and protein to heal the puncture and the edges contract around the piercing, forming a tunnel of scar tissue called a fistula. This phase may last weeks, months, or longer than a year.
- The maturation or remodeling phase: as the cells lining the piercing strengthen and stabilize. This stage takes months or years to complete.
It is normal for a white or slightly yellow discharge to be noticeable on the jewelry, as the sebaceous glands produce an oily substance meant to protect and moisturize the wound. While these sebum deposits may be expected for some time, only a small amount of pus, which is a sign of inflammation or infection, should be expected, and only within the initial phase. While sometimes difficult to distinguish, sebum is “more solid and cheeselike and has a distinctive rotten odor”, according to The Piercing Bible.
The amount of time it typically takes a piercing to heal varies widely according to the placement of the piercing. Genital piercings can be among the quicker to heal, with piercings of the clitoral hood and Prince Albert piercings healing in as little as a month, though some may take longer. Navel piercings can be the slowest to heal, with one source reporting a range of six months to two full years. The prolonged healing of navel piercings may be connected to clothing friction.
Soooo… way more then you or I expected to find or even want to know… but, since I know how related skin care and piercing can be… I figured this was a great potential post for anyone that was looking for great details about the what-knots regarding any kind of body piercing/art.
After recently and finally getting my “Monroe” piercing I have on my upper lip (between my lip and nasal areas) named I assumed after Marilyn Monroe due to the popularity of her beauty mark she had that so many attempted to recreate. Mine’s on the wrong side, and in a different location… but, it’s still considered this “Monroe” style. I have personally wanted/desired this for many years and finally got it. I am happy with my choice, and I educated myself fully before going into the procedure. I had this done at a local licensed and trained professional within the same mall I work at (for threading).
Their sanitation process is hospital grade, two step sterilization process of all implement, which includes ultrasonic & autoclave machine. The autoclave machine is tested monthly by OHSU to insure effective sterilization.
Euphoria Body Piercing & Tattoo
8700 NE Vancouver Mall Drive suite #165
Vancouver, WA 98662
**If you have anyone you would like to recommend, I would be happy to list them and give them a shout out as well. Please let me know! Safety above all else is #1 priority in my mind… we want to beautify our bodies and show off our personalities in such different ways… we should know where to go to get safe procedures!
(not to mention great skilled professionals too!)
**Some of the above details on history and related information I found throughout the web, however, the historical details mainly from Wikipedia.com