History and origin of piercings

There are many theories about the history and origin of piercings. And it is that the perforation of the ears, mouth or nose to place ornaments is an ancient practice that has remained alive to this day.

One of the stories and the one that comes closest to reality according to studies made over the years by historians, is that the origin of these ornaments was related to different rituals of initiation to sexual life or adult life in tribal societies.

Other theories mention that for the Mayans and Aztecs piercing had religious purposes and that for the Egyptians and Indians, piercing various parts of the body was their hallmark with respect to social hierarchies. And yet, in Roman times, as it happens today, body piercings were a matter of vanity, simple ornaments.

During the 19th century the use of these ornaments became discriminatory, far from the value given to it in antiquity.

Use, history and origin of piercings

It is thought that the reason for relating the use of perforations to initiation into sexual life or the arrival of adult life, is due to the ability to tolerate pain, both in physical and emotional situations, increases. Therefore, this transition was commemorated with the realization of piercings. 

As an example, there is the practice of the tribes of Borneo, where men were pierced in the male genitalia and when adolescence came, bone implants were placed in the glans.

Like tattoos, in some cultures, piercing is associated with decorative techniques or religious practices. 

For example, in the Mayan culture, the nobles, also carried out these rituals piercing language and genitals, while the most faithful devotees pierced their skin on religious holidays. With this, they believed to break the limits of the ego, to reach other states of consciousness. 

The American Indians shared the same mystical concept and performed dances suspended by means of gadgets that crossed the skin.

The passage of time was transforming the practice and has found press material of the Victorian era where they came to mention the existence of jewelry piercings on the nipples and penis.

From the 19th century to the present

There is little information about piercings in the 19th and early 20th century but there is evidence that tongue, nipple and lip piercings were common in Germany after World War II.

With the rebirth of decorative body techniques, let’s call it tattoos, piercing regained strength, especially thanks to the punk movement in Europe in the 1970s, who showed it as a means of provocation and with which they expressed their disagreement with society. 

Since then, the evolution of the world of tattooing and piercing has evolved to the level of being one of the industries that has grown the most, and that more followers have won around the world. 

We should also mention current practices such as the implant of objects under the skin to modify the surface as well as burns or decorative scars, auguring a great success among those who love body modifications.

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