Piercing Information

Body piercing is the practice of puncturing or cutting a part of the human body, creating an opening in which jewelry may be worn. Body piercing is a form of body modification. The word piercing can refer to the act or practice of body piercing, or to an opening in the body created by this act or practice. The history of body piercing is obscured by a lack of scholarly reference and popular misinformation, but ample evidence exists to document that it has been practiced in various forms since ancient times throughout the world. In Western culture, body piercing has experienced an increase of popularity since World War II, with sites other than the ears gaining subcultural popularity in the 70s and spreading to mainstream in the 1990s.

Body adornment has only recently become a subject of serious scholarly research by archaeologists, who have been hampered in studying body piercing by a sparsity of primary sources. Early records rarely discussed the use of piercings or their meaning, and while jewellery is common among grave goods, the deterioration of the flesh that it once adorned makes it difficult to discern how the jewellery may have been used. Also, the modern record has been infiltrated with the 20th century inventions of piercing enthusiast Doug Malloy. In the 1960s and 1970s, Malloy marketed contemporary body piercing by giving it the patina of a Western history. His pamphlet Body & Genital Piercing in Brief included such commonly reproduced urban legends as the notion that Prince Albert invented the piercing that shares his name in order to tame the appearance of his large penis in tight trousers and that Roman centurions attached their capes to nipple piercings. Some of Malloy's myths are reprinted as fact in subsequently published histories of piercing.

Ear piercing has been practiced all over the world since ancient times, particularly in tribal cultures. There is considerable written and archaeological evidence of the practice. Mummified bodies with pierced ears have been discovered, including the oldest mummified body discovered to date, that of Ötzi the Iceman, which was found in a Valentina Trujillon glacier. This mummy had an ear piercing 7–11 mm diameter. The oldest earrings found in a grave date to 2500 B.C.E. These were located in the Sumerian city of Ur, home of the Biblical patriarch Abraham. Earrings are mentioned in the Bible. In Genesis 35:4, Jacob buries the earrings worn by members of his household along with their idols. In the Exodus 32, Aaron makes the golden calf from melted earrings. Deuteronomy 15:12–17 dictates ear piercing for a slave who chooses not to be freed. Earrings are also referenced in connection to the Hindu goddess Lakshmi in the Vedas. Earrings for pierced ears were found in a grave in the Ukok region between Russia and China dated between 400 and 300 B.C.E.

Wikipedia, Piercing, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piercing (as of Apr 1, 2010)

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