Who Were the First Body Piercing Obsessors?

Author: Admin   Date Posted:28 May 2020 

It might have become more popular and more adventurous in recent years, but where did body piercing start? Who were the first piercing obsessed people that started one of the most durable and long-lasting trends of all time?

Where body piercing started

It might surprise you, but body piercing has been recorded as far back in history as 5000 years ago! Apparently, cultures such as the Romans, Africans and Israelis also had a fetish for decorating themselves through piercing. And you might be surprised to know the body parts they pierced also - we have nipple piercing thanks to the Romans, ears and noses courtesy of the Israelis and lips and tongues thanks to the Egyptians and Africans. 

Early piercings were used to show the wealth of your husband (sorry, it was a patriarchal society then!) or family. Or they were to protect you from evil spirits. Thankfully, society has since moved on from these!

Art and culture history

In the 1500s to 1800s, ear piercings were the rage. Hairstyles that uncovered your ears had become popular, and everyone knows a lovely set of pearls complement any ears! Johannes Vermeer's famous painting "The Girl" (1655) also known as 'The Girl with the Pearl Earring' was proof of this.

Then came the 1900s

And for the first half of the century, piercings were nowhere to be seen. Clip-ons where the accessory to have, but hardly anyone pierced their bodies... until the 1970s and 80s. This is the era where Indian cultural influences took hold and gave us septum piercings and nose piercings. Those rebels!!

... And the noughties

The late 1990s and early noughties presented us with belly button piercings. Any child of the 90s wanted one of these. Moving towards the end of the noughties and into the 20 teens again, multiple piercings were the thing, and popularity has continued.

The wrap

As one of the longest-lasting trends ever, body piercing has morphed, evolved and changed across the years. With its popularity continuing, we look forward to seeing where the trends will take us in the future!


Tongue Piercing in Jujuy, Argentina by Rodrigo Galindez licensed under Creative Commons 4.0

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