Three Interesting Things about Body Piercing

Ritambhara tells us about the traditions and history of body piercing, in the weekly column, exclusively in Different Truths.

Body piercing isn’t a new concept. The two most commonly seen piercings people opt for across the world are earlobe and nostril piercing. In fact, a study showed that nearly 14% of the population across the world have body piercings in body parts apart from ears and nose.  Let’s have a look at some of the interesting things associated with this tradition that is followed across the globe since ancient time. 

  1. The Concept and History of Body Piercing 

One might be amazed to know that it is one of the most ancient forms of expressions that most of the cultures have practised at some time or other for thousands of years. For instance, the Egyptian mummified remains of a human that was pierced are over 5,000 years old and were considered as a symbol of status and love of beauty. Egyptians loved to adorn their body and it was considered a status symbol to such an extent that certain body piercings were only restricted to the royal families. For instance, only the pharaoh could have their navel pierced and anyone who defied this norm was liable to be executed. All the well-to-do Egyptians wore earrings as a mark of their wealth and also to accent their beauty. Nevertheless, the Romans were no behind in following this act of body piercing. In order to signify their machismo, fortitude and their dedication to the Roman Empire, the Roman centurions got their nipples pierced. Julius Caesar too was no exception to this and got his nipples pierced to signify his strength and equality with his fellow men. 


Strikingly, genital piercing, through the head of the private parts and tied to the organ with leather, was a mark of slavery and was performed on the gladiators. It served two purposes. Firstly, it prevented serious injuries in case of gladiatorial combat and secondly, it prevented the slave from fornication without the owner’s consent as he could charge a fee to another slave owner for the opportunity to raise the next generation of great warriors/fighters. Tongue piercing was commonly practised by the Maya, Aztecs and some American Indians as part of religious rituals. Septum piercing (sporting a huge boar tusk thrust through their nose) was also practised by the Aztec and Maya to make them appear fiercer in front of their enemies. 

  1. The Reason Behind Body Piercing in Modern Times 

People primarily opt for body piercing to adorn their body with jewelleries and a majority of them support it as a way of aggrandizing their style statement. Nonetheless, people differ on judgements on this tradition. Some traditions regarded it a sinful act to wear jewellery to adorn their genitals, while others promoted it to boost their libido. 

  1. Getting Pierced the Right Way

Doctors have an entirely distinct perspective. They advocate careful piercing of a specific body part for embellishing it with ornaments as there could be numerous side effects if not adhered to hygiene and choosing ornaments of the best quality, certified and graded. Not opting for the sterile grade ones would only land you in trouble in terms of infection and other problems. 

Nevertheless, with the increasing rise in antibiotic-resistant diseases such as AIDS and Hepatitis C, the unsafe tools for body piercing are blamed. Most of the people engaged in body piercing follow no regulated health check-ups, and even if they are, chances are they get unnoticed.

It is of paramount importance to opt for safe body piercing procedure, not to risk fatal diseases and refrain from holding a loaded gun to your head and pulling the trigger.

©Ritambhara Kumari Upadhyay

Photos from the Internet

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