Learn about Types Of Piercing. Piercing, or body modification as it is sometimes referred, is the act of opening the body for the purpose of inserting a foreign object. The types of piercings for both men and women have been traced back to the ancient world. Different types of piercings have been used throughout the world for religious ceremonies, rites of passage, decoration and aesthetics, marriage, war, sexual pleasure, and marking the passing of an important event. The different types of piercings are varied and are chosen for what they represent to the individual.
Ear piercing is an ancient practice that has been extensively documented all over the world. It has been performed by both sexes, and archeologists even found ear piercings on mummified bodies. These types of piercings have been worn for both religious purposes and aesthetics. In the American Pacific Northwest, native tribes used earrings as a sign of nobility and wealth. In Europe earrings were seen more of an aesthetic decoration for nobles and commoners alike. Many sailors and adventurers were known to pierce a single ear with the belief that it would improve and increase their long-distance vision. It was also believed that should they drown at sea and their body wash up on shore, the earrings would pay for a proper christian burial.
Nose piercings can be traced back to ancient times and are most common in India. The piercing is reserved for women of childbearing age. In most cases, the left nare is pierced because it is directly related to the female reproductive organs in Ayurveda. Nose piercing is referenced in the Bible and is found in Australian tribes, and the Bedouin. It is believed that the Aztecs and the Mayans pierced their septum to display various bones, feathers, and gold as a sign of wealth and virility.
Lip piercing has been practiced across the globe, but it is most prominent in Africa. This particular type of piercing can be a simple ring that passes through one part of the lip, or it could be the large lip disk (pelele) seen in Malawi. A labret piercing is when the skin below the lower lip is pierced. This practice was predominantly done as a sign of status and wealth and can be found in the Aztec and Mayan civilizations. Aztecs and Mayans were also known to perform ritualistic tongue piercings as a religious offering to their gods. Similar rituals have been observed in the Middle East and North America.
The history of nipple piercing is blurred and uncertain. There is evidence of it in the Kama Sutra, which dates to ancient Indian empires, and it is believed that Roman soldiers may have performed these types of piercings as a sign of masculinity. American and British sailors used nipple rings as a rite of passage. When a sailor had sailed beyond certain latitudes and longitudes he was given a nipple piercing.
Like nipple piercings, navel and genital piercings have an uncertain past. Genital piercings have been referenced in the Kama Sutra for sexual enhancement, and in other cultures for diminishing sexual pleasure. Navel piercings have become popular in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, but there is no reliable evidence to suggest they were performed prior to this.