EP002: A Brief History of Piercings -> What Do Piercings Mean and What Have They Meant Historically?

EP002: A Brief History of Piercings -> What Do Piercings Mean and What Have They Meant Historically?

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Episode Highlights:

0:13 - Today we're gonna be talking about the history of piercings
0:54 - “Every culture has their own specific type of piercing that was significant to them.” - Endy
1:34 - Who is Ötzi the Iceman?
3:25- Body modifications were actually mentioned in the Bible
4:40 - “I think that's very interesting because I know that a lot of people for certain religions are against specific piercings.” - Kara
5:22 - Goddess Lakshmi has nose piercings
6:00 - What is “bulak?”
7:02 - Tongue rings originated as a ritual amongst the Aztecs and the Mayans
7:38 - Pioneers of the BDSM and kink modification scene
8:29 - Does Queen Elizabeth has something to do with the Prince Albert piercing?
10:30 - Summing it all up


Endy: Hey everyone, welcome back to another episode of the #iamAvanti Podcast. I am here with my two co-hosts.

Kara: Kara.

Silas: And Silas.

Today we're gonna be talking about the history of piercings
Endy: Yeah, today we're gonna be talking about the history of piercings. Just a disclaimer, we are in the shop so there may be a little bit of background noise we may have to stop mid-sentence to help our lovely customers as they come into the store or just recording on the side of the store so we're not back this time, so-

Kara: -bear with us.

Silas: Yes. Apologize with the background noise.

Endy: So yeah, today we're gonna be talking about the history of piercings and where they come from, which was really hard to find and really hard to nail down because it seems like they kind of come from a lot of places.

Kara: Everywhere.


"Every culture has their own specific type of piercing that was significant to them." - Endy


Endy: Yeah, pretty much everywhere. Every culture has their own specific type of piercing that was significant to them so they come from different regions and then as people migrated and traveled, so does the piercings and so did the act of getting piercings and the reasons people get pierced. But as far as just your basic run-of-the-mill piercings: lobes, ear lobes are possibly the oldest piercings dating from 1500 BC in India, with nostril and septum following close second. Most piercings were used in indigenous cultures as virtual religious or spiritual purposes. There has been mummies found with ear holes, including the oldest mummy found to date, Ötzi the Iceman.
Happy anniversary, Ötzi: 25 years later, we're still obsessed with ...Ötzi The Iceman's Tattoos: What The Oldest Tattoos Ever Discovered ...
Source: https://culturacolectiva.com/ & http://www.iceman.it/

He was found in a glacier in Italy and is accorded that the King and other historical figures also pursued piercings but this one mummy, he had his ears dilated to like seven to 11 millimeters-

Kara: Wow!

Endy: -so he had them stretched.

Silas: He also had tattoos. So he was just the early body, mad guy. [inaudible 2:04] at all.

Endy: He's like the first record punk. OG

Kara: Even create patches. He had his ears pierced. I actually think I brought that up earlier, but I gotta say, I actually think he even had her belly pierced.

Silas: Oh, yeah.

Kara: Correct me if I'm wrong.

Endy: Yeah, navel piercings, they were a thing in Egypt, there were a way to claim status in royalty and there was this one King who was like, I'm the only one who can have a navel piercing and if you hide your navel pierced and he found out, he would kill you but yeah. So that's intense. Way to state your claim and own your look and make sure no one else has it. Yeah, that's one way to do it just by threatening everyone but back to the ear piercings. So sailors from many different era's would often pierce their ears knowing that if they were to die at sea, the earring would recover from their body would help pay for their funeral, which I think is pretty hardcore.

Kara: And also helped give them a proper burial to some people do that they're a sailor.

Silas: A proper Christian burial---There are lot of the times to again tying it all back to these religious purposes, [inaudible 03:25] throughout history body mods.

Endy: Right, yeah. Body mods were mentioned in the bible a couple times, right?

Body modifications were mentioned in the bible a couple times
Silas: Yeah, so earrings were mentioned specifically in Genesis 35.
Whose Earrings Did Jacob Bury? · The BAS Library
Source: https://www.baslibrary.org

It says that Jacob buried the earrings for by his loved ones in the beautiful city of [inaudible 03:42] but their piercings are also mentioned earlier in Genesis 24

Source: https://bibleencyclopedia.com

when Abraham is sending a servant to go find a wife for his son, Isaac, and they meet Rebecca and they offer her a gold notary in exchange for marriage, so again [inaudible 3:56] but also bartering.

Endy: Cool. I like how the servant was like busy Tinder. Like swipe right or send my butler out, and find me a boo.

Silas: I have this gold nose ring, give it to the hottest girl you see.

Endy: Right.

Kara: Noting to the hottest hottie--

Silas: If she's into it then we know she's cool.

Kara: Right.

Endy: Right and then you pierce her nose we get made married.

Silas: Start a whole religion.

Endy: Right


"I think that's very interesting because I know that a lot of people for certain religions are against specific piercings." - Kara


Kara: I, myself actually don't know much about religions at all because I didn't grow up being religious so I never knew that actually. I think that's very very interesting especially because I know that a lot of people for certain religions they actually are against specific piercings.

Silas: Yeah, well, so as a Jewish person, like I was always told you couldn't get piercings in the body, just [inaudible 04:52] because you're not supposed to be changing your image in the likeness of God.

Kara: Exactly. Yeah

Silas: But then it's like well, it's all right here in this box. So, I cited that to my mom, who is my Rabbi who has a nose piercing so I was like if she has a nose piercing---

Kara: Why can't you?

Goddess Lakshmi has nose piercings
Endy: Though also on the topic of nose piercings and religion, in around 1500 BCE, the Vedas, which are the collection of hymns and other ancient religious texts written in India. They refer to Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth, fortune, power and luxury - her nose piercings, but modern practice in India's beliefs have spread kind of throughout nomadic tribes in the Middle East in the 16th century.
Goddess Lakshmi
Source: https://www.astroved.com/

Kara: Cool. So nose piercings have been around for quite some time.

Endy: Yeah.

Kara: Okay. I'm wondering if that would have been like one of the more OG styles of facial piercing was it probably started off with the nose ring. [inaudible 5:54] got now.

Silas: Or at least in this region of the world.

What is "bulak?"
Endy: Apparently in India, Nepal and Tibet and amulet called the "bulak" was attached to the nostril piercing and it's often so big that it had to be lifted up so that the person can eat and people thought that nose piercings cause infections, but the "bulak" was just there just for purely decoration so it's just this big, huge piece you put on your nose. I don't know if the nose actually stretch with it or not. I didn't find any photos of it but I think that's pretty cool.

Silas: That sounds like another one where again, it's related to status. You have to be wealthy enough to have someone who can look out for you.

Endy: That's true. Yeah.

Silas: A specific person.

Endy: Just my nose piercing lifters, that's your only job.

Kara: Wash your hands first.

Silas: I take it.

Endy: Right.

Kara: I mean, I don't have to be wealthy enough to be able to purchase the material, so -

Silas: Yeah.

Tongue rings originated as a ritual amongst the Aztecs and the Mayans
Endy: And so I guess moving down the face, tongue rings actually. They began between the 14th and 16th centuries and tongue rings originated as like a ritual amongst the Aztecs and the Mayans as a form of blood sacrifice.
Source: https://finnangryaztecs.weebly.com & https://dreamflesh.com/
Kara: Oh wow.

Endy: So yeah, they would often pass a thread through the piercing to enhance the blood flow so Priests and shamans in these cultures and also pierce their own tongues to create an altered state of consciousness so that they could communicate with gods.

Kara: Wow.

Endy: So I thought that that was pretty interesting.

Kara: Yeah.

Silas: Yeah, that's really cool for me.

Kara: Yeah, that is.

Pioneers of the BDSM and kink modification scene
Endy: We already talked about navel. So let's go a little bit further down south and talk about genital piercings. So in the 1970s gay men, BDSM practitioners and others got pierced down there to express their sexuality. I guess it really became super popular. And there are two people that kind of modernized and took off with genital piercings in that whole scene, Jim Ward and Fakir Musafar. I am so sorry for saying that that way. I don't know how to pronounce it correctly.

Jim Ward (body piercer) - WikipediaHappy Birthday, Jim Ward
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/ & https://infinitebody.com/
A Modern Primitive Passes: Honoring Fakir Musafar | TattoodoBay Area Reporter :: Body arts pioneer Fakir Musafar dies
Source: https://www.tattoodo.com/ & https://www.ebar.com/

But they were basically known as the pioneers of the BDSM and kink modification scene, and they explored with nipples and genital piercings, flush health suspensions, and other mods.

Kara: That took place. It took place back in like the 1960s or 70s. Right?

Does Queen Elizabeth has something to do with the Prince Albert piercing?
Endy: Yeah, but before that, I think there was a story about how the Prince Albert came to be right, Silas?

Silas: Yeah, well, genital piercings in general for people with all different genitalia has been going on for a really long time. The Prince Albert I think is probably one of most well known genital piercings. It is a piercing that goes through the urethra of a penis. But it was named after Prince Albert who was the husband of Queen Victoria of England and legend goes he basically just had a hard time controlling his arousal and so Queen Victoria was like "I have enough [inaudible 09:11] we got to deal with it.
Queen Victoria - Wikipedia Albert, Prince Consort - Wikipedia
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/

Somehow there's piercing came to be and with ring jewelry through the head of the penis thought was then tied through like-- a string was tied around that which is tied to the sky just to help keep Prince Albert under control.

Endy: Down boy.

Silas: And ironically now the Prince Albert's known to enhance sexual experiences and arousal so we're really doing Prince Albert's- Yeah, we're carrying on is rightfully so.

Kara: Funny how something that was specifically made to tailor you know, be painful, and to you know, kind of keep a tame turned into something that actually potentially could cause you more pleasure so that's a little bit the irony of that. It's just, it's great.

Silas: But overall a lot of genital piercings really have again, history and like spiritual places --- ways of seeing celibate or almost similar to like a chastity belt. Connecting you higher with God through either enhancing or denying certain senses.

Endy: Cool.

Kara: Yeah.

Endy: Sounds like a fun time.

Silas: I think so.

Endy: All right. Well, that's all we written --- we wrote down for the history of piercings. If you have any more information about it, or if you wanted us to do another episode, we may do the history of jewelry materials, later on, to discuss how the material of what we use for piercings has changed over the era.

Silas: And styles.

Endy: And styles as well, totally. But for now, we are gonna sign off and again, I'm Endy.

Kara: I'm Kara.

Silas: I'm Silas.

Endy: And thank you so much for listening to #iamAvanti.

Kara: Bye.

Endy: Bye.

Silas: Bye.

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