The History of Body Piercings – Ancient and Fascinating Around the World

Body piercings have seen a resurgence of interest in the last ten to twenty years and are becoming more and more a part of the mainstream Western culture. Take a look at any fashion or entertainment magazine and you’ll see plenty of well-known celebrities with body piercings like navel rings or a labret. You might be surprised to find out that piercing is actually an ancient form of expression that most cultures have practiced at some time or other for thousands of years. Egyptian body piercings reflected status and love of beauty The earliest known mummified remains of a human that was pierced is over 5,000 years old. This worthy gentleman had his ears pierced with larger-gauge plugs in his ears, so plugs may be one of the oldest forms of body modification there is! We also know that the Egyptians loved to adorn themselves elaborately, and even restricted certain types of body piercings to the royal family. In fact, only pharaoh himself could have his navel pierced. Any one else who tried to get a belly button ring could be executed. (Tell that to Britney Spears!) Almost every well-to-do Egyptian wore earrings, though, to display their wealth and accent their beauty. Elaborate enameled and gold earrings frequently portrayed items in nature such as lotus blossoms. Body piercings are also mentioned in the Bible. In the Old Testament it’s obvious that body jewelry is considered a mark of beauty and wealth, especially for Bedouin and nomadic tribes. In many cases, body jewelry was given as a bridal gift or as part of a dowry. It is clear that piercing was a sign of status and attractiveness in Biblical times. Romans were practical piercers Romans were very practical people, and for them piercing almost always served a purpose. Roman centurions pierced their nipples not because they liked the way it looked, but to signify their strength and virility. It was a badge of honor that demonstrated the centurion’s dedication to the Roman Empire. As a symbol, it was important and served a specific function, unifying and bonding the army. Even Julius Caesar pierced his nipples to show his strength and his identification with his men. Genital piercing through the head of the penis was performed on gladiators, who were almost always slaves, for two reasons. A ring through the head of the penis could be used to tie the organ back to the testicles with a length of leather. In gladiatorial combat, this prevented serious injury. With a large enough ring or bar, it also prevented the slave from having sex without the owner’s consent. Since the gladiator was “property,” a stud fee could be charged to another slave owner for the highly prized opportunity to raise the next generation of great fighter. Making love or war, piercing makes it better Going across the ocean at around the same time, the Aztecs, Maya and some American Indians practiced tongue piercing as part of their religious rituals. It was thought to bring them closer to their gods and was a type of ritual blood-letting. The Aztec and Maya were warrior tribes, and also practiced septum piercing in order to appear fiercer to their enemies. Nothing looks quite as frightening as an opponent sporting a huge boar tusk thrust through his nose!

This practice was also common among tribes in New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. Some of the materials commonly used were bone, tusks and feathers. Hundreds of years later, French fur trappers in Washington State discovered American Indian tribes who wore bones through their septum and called them the Nez Perce, meaning “Pierced Noses” in French. It’s interesting that civilizations separated by thousands of miles and even centuries often developed a love for the same kind of body piercings to enhance certain features, isn’t it?

In Central and South America, lip labrets were popular for purely aesthetic reasons – women with pierced lips were considered more attractive. In fact, the holes were often stretched to incredible size as progressively larger wooden plates were inserted to emphasize the lips as much as possible. (Kind of like collagen today). The Aztecs and Maya also sported lip labrets of gold and jade, many of them elaborately carved into mythical or religious figures or sporting gemstones. These were seen as highly attractive and to enhance sexuality. As the world moved into the dark ages, interest in piercing died down somewhat and the medieval church began to condemn it as sinful. For a few hundred years, Western civilization abandoned the practice. As the Renaissance went into full swing, however, interest in piercing began to pick up again. A new era and a new interest in body piercings Sailors became convinced that piercing one ear would improve their long-distance site, and so the site of a sailor with a gold or brass ring became common. Word also spread that should a sailor be washed ashore after a shipwreck, the finder should keep the gold ring in exchange for providing a proper Christian burial. Sailors were both religious and superstitious, so they generally spent a lot for a large gold earring to hedge their bets. Men became much more fashion-conscious during the Renaissance and Elizabethan eras, and almost any male member of the nobility would have at least one earring, if not more. Large pearl drops and enormous diamond studs were a great way to advertise your wealth and standing in the community. It could also designate royal favor if your earring was a gift from a member of the royal family. Women, not wanting to be outshone by the men in all their finery, began to wear plunging necklines, with the Queen of Bavaria introducing the most outrageous, which consisted of not much at all above the waist. In order to adorn themselves, women began piercing their nipples to show off their jewelry. Soon they began wearing chains and even strands of pearls draped between the two.

Men and women both discovered that these nipple piercings were also delightful playthings in bed, adding sensitivity to the breasts and giving the men both visual and tactile stimulation. Men began getting pierced purely for pleasure as well. While not entirely mainstream, piercing of the nipples and, occasionally, the genitals, continued to hold interest for members of the upper crust of society in Europe on and off for the next few hundred years. The next resurgence of interest was, surprisingly, during the Victorian age, which is usually seen as very repressed. Prince Albert, future husband of Queen Victoria, is said to have gotten the penis piercing that is named after him in order wear the tight-fitting trousers so popular at the time. The ring could then be attached to a hook on the inside of one pant leg, tucked safely away between the legs for a neat, trim look. Although we have no record of Victoria’s response to the piercing itself, there is ample evidence she was wildly in love with her husband and almost never left his side after their marriage! Soon, Victorian men were getting Prince Albert’s, frenums and a variety of other piercings purely for the pleasurable sexual effects, and women were doing the same. By the 1890′s, it was almost expected that a woman would have her nipples pierced. In fact, some doctors at the time suggested it improved conditions for breastfeeding, although not all agreed. It was an interesting double standard — plenty of people were doing it, but no one was talking about it. Modern-day body piercings In the last hundred years or so, body piercings in the Western world have mostly been limited to the ears, a standard hold-over from the fact that both men and women wore earrings during Elizabethan times. The Puritan movement did away with men wearing earrings, however, and it didn’t really regain popularity until recently. Nose rings found new interest when young people (they were called hippies then) from the U.S. began traveling in India extensively looking for enlightenment in the 1960′s. They noticed the nostril rings that most women had been wearing there since the sixteenth century. In India, this was a form of traditional, accepted adornment and was often linked to an earring by a chain. For rebellious teens from America, it was a great form of rebellion. After bringing nose piercings back to the U.S., the interest in body piercings of all kinds quickly caught on during the 1980′s and 1990′s. Celebrities, sports stars and singers all began sporting a variety of piercings. Soon, high school students and even stay-at-home moms were flashing new body piercings. And the rest, as they say, is history! This article on the “History of Body Piercings” reprinted with permission.
Copyright 2004 Evaluseek Publishing.

Pop Art – A Quick Guide to the Basics

Some of the most well-known artists of the Pop Art phenomenon, such as Roy Lichtenstein and Robert Rauschenberg, were born in the 1920′s which was a boom time in the USA with money to spare and jazz music starting to make it’s mark. But in 1929 the stock market crashed and the US entered a depression that lasted until the mid-1930′s. Perhaps the most famous of all pop artists, Andy Warhol, was born at the beginning of that depression.

So these artists grew up in a fast changing world that went from boom to bust to World War II in little over 10 years. By the time the war ended, they were still young and during the 1950s people again started to have some extra money available to spend on the endless stream of new products that were starting to appear.

And it was the design and advertising of these new products that the artists were commenting on, and influenced by, in a way that no previous generation of artists had been. They tried to use ordinary consumer items in their work to encourage people to view them differently. They also positioned common items in unusual ways to make people take notice of them.

Other common themes in Pop Art were comic books and the famous people of that era such as Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe, who will be forever associated with Warhol’s work. Warhol used screen printing techniques for his work and usually made several copies of the same image.

But what the artists sought to highlight was the way famous people were treated as objects in the same way as products were in advertising with all sense of their individuality removed. Although many pop artists were unwilling to give meaning to their work, and even those who posed questions with their art, left those same questions unanswered. Jasper Johns, famous for his series of paintings showing the American flag, famously questioned whether his own work was art or just a flag.

So what are the characteristics of Pop Art?

Just as the world in which we live is endlessly varied, so Pop Art used a variety of techniques but the common characteristics that define works as Pop Art are as follows:

Graphic Style: Clearly defined shapes and colours with hard edges such as the Lichtenstein comic book styles and David Hockney’s works.

Funny and Lighthearted: Rejecting the rather serious approach of earlier artists.

Everyday Products and Brands: including foodstuffs, cars and images from advertising and films.

Collage: and also different techniques within one work.

No Perspective: Flat two-dimensional works are very common.

Mechanical Techniques: silk-screen printing was used to create different versions of the same image.

The Different Types of Body Piercing

Here’s a short introduction to types of Body Piercings. You should get to know them before getting pierced. That way you can choose the type that is right for you.

Ear Piercing

Ear piercing is by far the most common piercing seen. Women have had their earlobes pierced for decades, and men have started to do the same within the last 40 years. The earlobe piercing is the most socially acceptable piercing. Most employers will allow at least one small earring in each lobe, barring safety reasons. This can be for simple decoration, or to show solidarity and a member of a social group. Military personnel, especially naval officers would pierce their left earlobe as a show of camaraderie Gay men used to pierce their right earlobe as a show of “gay pride.” This is no longer case. Men and women now pierce one or both earlobe, either once or multiple times as a matter of self expression.

Also common is cartilage piercing in the ear. Lesbians have begun piercing the right upper corner of their ear cartilage for the same reason of solidarity. There is no widely known symbolism for piercings elsewhere in the ear cartilage. Most portions of the ear cartilage can be safely pierced by an experienced professional.

Nose Piercing

The nose is traditionally pierced in two places, the first being on the side of one nostril. Generally smaller studs are placed in this spot. The second is a cartilage piercing through the septum, or the center part of the nose. This piercing has been affectionately dubbed, “the responsible facial piercing”, because if a small U-shaped bar is placed there, the piercing can be easily be turned back into the nostrils. This makes the piercing more difficult to spot.

Tongue Piercing

Tongue piercings run vertically from the upper to the lower surface of the tongue. This piercing is said to give increase pleasure during oral sex, but most people have this piercing for aesthetic purposes. With proper jewelry, this piercing will heal very quickly, but special consideration should be given when using metal jewelry. Metal can cause damage to the gums and tooth enamel.

Nipple Piercing

Nipple piercing is done equally by men and women. This is a piercing that is considered attractive. However, many also choose this piercing because it increases the sensitivity of the nipple, making sensation more pleasurable. Because individual nipple sizes vary, this piercing is more difficult for some than others. Smaller nipples are much harder to pierce. Those individuals with smaller nipples are encouraged to seek a professional with more experience in this area.

Naval Piercing

In ancient Egypt, this particular piercing was reserved solely for the pharaoh. In today’s society, this is a common piercing. This piercing is usually sported by those that want to show off their mid-drift. This piercing is more common in women than men, solely because there are styles of women’s blouses designed to show this area.

Genital Piercing

Genital piercing is popular in both men and women. Those piercing directly on or very near the sex organs amplify sensation to make stimulation more pleasurable. Some of the popular piercing sites for male genitalia include: the tip/head, at the base of the shaft at the public bone, and the scrotum. For women piercings can be placed on: the clitoris; the hood; the inner and outer labia; and the triangle.

10 Benefits of Graphic Recording

Graphic recording is a tool for turning the intangible into the tangible it is a process and a product.

The process part is due to the graphic recorder transforming the spoken word into the visual. A graphic recorder listens intently to the conversation pen in hand and illustrates what they hear using pictures, words and color. This helps people collaborate and feel listened to creating a safe environment for new ideas.

The product part comes from the colorful output that is created. A complete digital capture of the illustrations created by the graphic recorder are compiled into a pdf that all participants receive after the event.

This process is hugely beneficial to any meeting of the minds and some of these benefits are outlined below.

1. Promotes Clear Thinking

Graphic records promote the clear thinking and good decision making that come when people can really ‘see what you mean’, and also see what they mean.

2. Provides Group Memory

A record of graphics captures the contents of a meeting in an engaging fashion and serves as an effective touchstone for recalling accomplishments and educating others.

3. Help Group Focus and Track

A graphic record provides a clear indication of what is being addressed by the group at any given moment, which aids participants to know where they are at and stay focused on the task at hand.

4. Increased Creativity

Recording graphics increases the ability to manifest ideas within an environment that unleashes the unlimited potential of the mind. As it uses both sides of the brain it opens up a relationship with the subconscious and allows thoughts and intuitions to flow freely. Visual Thinking builds connections with mnemonics and imagery eliciting the responses necessary to access these reservoirs.

5. Greater Efficiency and Productivity

Information discussed within a graphically recorded environment is more clearly understood, maximizing the time and efficiency of the “group mind.” With a greater grasp on individual roles and tasks, participants leave with a far better ability to reach goals and objectives. Graphic recording enables you to collect complex data in an integrated form on a single sheet of paper, increasing the opportunity to make informed decisions.

6. Greater Memory Retention and Comprehension – Scientifically proven studies show that simultaneous visuals increase participation and information comprehension. Add dimensions of real-time performance, radiant thinking (the brains natural process of thinking), metaphor, and mnemonics and comprehension is off the scale.

7. Documentation/ Product Creation

Recording graphics creates a real-time digital capture of the conversation. Clients receive an accurate recording of all the information harvested during programs that can be referred to at any time thereafter. These tools act as great memory tool that allow our clients to receive a cohesive understanding of what has been achieved.

8. Pattern recognition and understanding

Graphic recording is key in tapping the under utilized areas of the brain, boosting the creative IQ, the emotional IQ, assimilation of information, habit patterns and overall intelligence and mental performance.

9. Plays to your audience

Above 80% of us are visual learners. When we see it, we “get it.” Graphic recording provides critical information in an easy to understand format, predictable to the eye and organized for the brain. The faster participants understand your messages, the quicker and easier the agenda proceeds.

10. Seeing the Big Picture

A large graphical view of the discussion allows the group to notice relationships, identify themes, and spot gaps, all resulting in new insights. With more information on the page than could be held in the mind, people engage in higher level thinking and debate focused on solutions that truly consider the big picture.

As you can SEE the benefits of graphic recording are phenomenal no wonder the use of a graphic recorder or graphic facilitator is starting to become the norm in the top fortune 500 companies globally. In this new age of communication and community a tool like this is vital to ensuring you get the most out of your people’s time and effort.