History of Body Modification

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When you see someone walking down the street with his or her ear pierced you probably do no think much about it, but when you see a man or woman walking down the street with their tongue pierced you probably take a second glance or make a slap judgment about them before even taking the time to think about why he or she got a body part pierced. Body piercing has become more mainstream in the past ten to fifteen years, but can still not get past the stigma attached to getting a body part pierced. But what most people do not realize is that piercing of body parts other than ears date back as far as Biblical times and have symbolic meaning rather than just shock value.

The art of body modification has been in practice since as early as the Egyptians and mummies. The oldest remains of a mummy, which was dated as 5,000 years old was said to have his ears pierced with large plugs, otherwise known as gauges. (Noya, 2005) The Egyptians had such a fondness for themselves that they even restricted certain parts of the body only to be pierced if they were royalty. It was said that only a pharaoh was allowed to have his navel pierced, all others could face serious prosecution such as death if they tried to have their navel pierced. The art of body modification to the Egyptians was not merely to show off their beauty, but to show their social status and wealth.

Another interesting place that you will find body piercing is ironically in the Bible. Genesis 24:22 talks about a servant of Abraham, who gives his future wife a nose ring as a present. (Roberts, 2004) Nose rings, which originated in India, are supposed to be worn in the left nostril to make child birth easier. (Noya, 2005) In Indian culture it is quite common to see the nose pierced on both sides and connected by a chain to both ear lobes.

While body piercing is not well accepted in western culture, it has been a staple in many tribes and eastern culture for a very long time. The tongue piercing has...
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