I picked piercings to include in the history of makeup because it is still a body modification and a form of art, one I am interested in. I currently have 5 piercings and at one time had 9.
The history of piercing is deep and vast, developing at different stages as it is practiced all over the world in many forms. Because of this, giving you a summary would end up being 50 pages, so instead I will give you my top 10 tidbits I learned as I was researching the topic. Enjoy!
- Everyone has an individual reason on why they get pierced; religious, spiritual, self-expression, aesthetic value, sexual pleasure, and conforming to culture or rebelling against it.
- The World record for most piercings!
- As of August 5, 2010, the most pierced man is Rolf Buchholz, from Germany, who had 453 piercings, including 158 around his lips, and 278 in the genital area.
- As of May 4, 2000, the most pierced woman is Elaine Davidson (Brazil/UK), who has 462 piercings: 192 piercing on her facial area and 214 adorning her pubic area (internal and external).
- Earrings are the oldest form of piercings. Ötzi the Iceman a mummy who is 5,300 years old was found in a glacier in Austria with his ears pierced. The mummification process helped to preserve the body so well the earrings were still attached to the ears. Jewelry is often found in graves of ancient Russians and Chinese and assumed to once adorn the flesh which has since deteriorated. This is the grounds to where many of the urban legends arose.
- Because the history is so vast with piercings the facts are hard to determine but numerous urban legends have arisen for the origin of many piercings;
- Ancient Romans had their nipples pierced so they had something to attach their capes to.
- Prince Albert created the penile piercing to diminish the appearance of his large penis in tight trousers.
- On the body there are five locations that are typically pierced; Ear, Facial, Oral, Body, Genital and of these sites the genitals of the women have the most specific locations with 10!
- India has a long history of nose piercing. It is believed the modern practice spread to India from Middle Eastern nomadic tribes of the 16th Today it is occasionally practiced that Indian women have their left nostril pierced the night before the woman marries because of the nostril’s association with the female reproductive organs making childbirth easier and lessens the pain.
- Tongue piercing was a ritual performed by ancient tribes including Aztecs, Maya, Haida, and Tlinglit. The blood from the tongue was used to appease the gods and create an altered state of consciousness so the medium could communicate with the gods.
- Lip Piercings and stretching was scattered all over the world, the history is rich in tribes and having your lip pierced was a sign of nobility as many would be fashioned with pure gold plates with stones inserted in them. The women of the Makololo tribe in Africa wear lip plates as a thing of beauty. The chief of the tribe was asked about this custom by explorer Dr. Livingstone who received a surprising response “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.”
- Not surprisingly but early practices of nipple and genital piercings can be traced back to before the 20th century to the Kamasutra in the Gupta Empire (320 – 550 CE) of Ancient India giving enhanced sexual pleasure.
- Sailors in the European Middle Ages had a superstition that piercing one ear improved long-distance vision. Sailors also believed that their earrings could pay for a Christian burial if their bodies washed up on shore.
Stay tuned for next week when I will be talking about perfume.