Body Piercing Through the Ages: Why Did They Do That?

Published: 06th March 2009
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Have you ever seen someone with a body piercing and thought, "Why did they do that?" The fact of the matter is that most body piercing in modern times has become a fad accessory. It's no longer extraordinary to see someone with a stud in their nose, or a belly button piercing. Things haven't always been this way, and people throughout history have pierced themselves with more than a fad on their mind.

Beauty: More Than Skin Deep

Probably the most popular reason for body piercing throughout time, and the most widely used reason today, is beauty. The Egyptians were known to use body piercing to show status and attract the eye, but bellybutton piercing was reserved for the Pharaoh alone. The lip plate labret style piercing was and is used by the Makololol tribe of Malawi. It's supposed to enhance a woman's beauty and serve as a beard replacement. The men find a woman entirely unattractive if she is sans this piercing.

Magic: The Voodoo That You Do

Believed to be originally used for magic, earlobe piercing is the most common piercing performed today. Sailors used to pierce their ears to improve their eyesight, and it would pay for a burial in case of a shipwreck. Before this, ancient tribes believed evil spirits could enter the body through the ear canal. Because demons and spirits were thought to be repelled by metal, this type of piercing was used to keep them out.

War: Are You Scared Yet?

Piercings have been used through history by aggressive cultures to intimidate opponents, as well as for practical purposes. Tribes in New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Irian Jaya historically practice septum piercing, usually with a large piece of bone or tusk, to give their face a fierce look. Ancient Roman soldiers pierced their nipples to unify and bond the army, and to signify their strength and virility. Roman gladiators often had a ring through the head of their penis so a length of leather could be used to tie the organ back to prevent major injury.

Sex: Painful Pleasures

A popular reason for piercing, but on a much more "private" level, piercing for sexual pleasure has been around for many centuries. In the 14th century, the dress fashions of the time gave rise to nipple piercing for decoration, but the sexual potential was soon discovered as women of the elite social class found the sensations quite titillating.

The piercing of the Glans on a male is mentioned in the Kama Sutra (700AD), and the Palang piercing has been practiced in South East Asia for centuries. The Kayan, Kenyah, Kelabit, Dayak, and Iban tribes of Sarawak still practice the Palang, involving the horizontal piercing of the Glans of the penis and the insertion of a barbell. The women of the Dayak commented that sex without this piercing is like rice, but with the piercing, it is like rice with salt.

As you see, body piercing has been practiced all over the world from very early in our history, and not just for kicks. The reasons are as varied as the cultures that have performed them, but for whatever reason, one thing remains true. They look is your one stop resource for quality wholesale body jewelry and more. Visit us online for a wide range of sterling silver, stainless steel, tungsten and titanium body jewelry.

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