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.

How to Write a Motion Graphics Design Or Animation Treatment

Give Yourself the best chance of winning the Design or Animation project with these guidelines

The Title & Introduction

The very first thing you will write on any treatment is the name of the project, so it is highly advisable to make sure you get this part correct. When taking a brief it is always a good idea to take as detailed notes as possible about all aspects of the project including the people involved, key words, reference material, technical aspects or limitations, audio preferences and project working titles. These notes will assist when putting the basics into a treatment, and showing your fullest understanding of the brief, like the correct title, or key words that the client was at pains to describe the project with.

Once you have a clean leading page with the clients name, the name of the project, and any subtitle, you are ready to add the first and most important body of text, the introduction or approach.

The introduction, outline, premise or approach to a treatment is a vital and concise 2 or 3 line paragraph, clearly telling the reader what it is they are about to read, and the reason for reading it. Ideally this paragraph will ‘grab’ the reader immediately and tweak their interest, wanting to read the rest of the document.

The Writing Style

The use of descriptive language is an important part of the art of all writing, no less with treatments, where you ideally need to squeeze all the information into one or two sides of a4 paper to paint a clear picture in the readers mind’s eye of exactly what they can expect the final film or animation to look like.

When describing your concept, try and use flowing and elegant phrasing while being descriptive and to the point. A wide use of vocabulary will keep the reader interested and their brain visualising the result.

For example, The brief is for a television crime drama title sequence, and the Director wants the style of the title sequence to reflect the period, atmosphere and subject matter of the script. The Director may use quite descriptive words in a brief like, dark or chilling, ensure to re-use these words in your treatment and add some of your own to further embellish. For example; dark foreboding blackness, or chilling, spine jarring finale.

Try not to repeat the same word too many times, and think of alternative ways to describe the same or similar part of the project. For example; when mentioning a transitional effect in the animation or film, try and find new ways to write about that effect.

Your Branding

Ensure that your business, company or studio logo and branding is clearly marked on the front of the treatment, as well as the body of the treatment to ensure that all who read it will know where it is from and who wrote it. It will also help ensure your ideas stay as your own and are not borrowed by someone else. Another consideration is to flatten your document to ensure that the logo and graphics are displayed correctly and no one is able to edit your treatment or take paragraphs for re purposing into another document. Saving your MS Word or other word processor document as an Adobe Acrobat PDF file is an ideal way of achieving this.

The Concept

This is the main body of text where you can flesh out the idea in more detail. It is important to ensure that this paragraph is easy to read and to the point. Use this part of the treatment as a way of quickly describing the rest of the information that you eloquently touched on in your Introduction. Try and keep the sentences brief with enough space around them to be absorbed easily. Allow the sentences to flow together easily to ensure the reader does not get lost partway through, it is vital that your idea makes sense from start to finish giving your reader the chance of constructing the piece in their own minds eye.

Imagery

Consider including images to assist your concept.

You will probably be producing a storyboard separately to your treatment, but using additional reference images, character illustrations, environment and backgrounds or mood board images in your treatment can really help the reader to grasp what you are saying. Positioning the images is also important, breaking up the paragraphs can lose the readers flow, so try adding an image or series of images under a paragraph.

Using a large image under the Introduction can act as a real eye grabber for the rest of the document.

Reference Material

Reference material is key to helping sell your idea, especially if you can reference your own past work. It is another chance to showcase your work and give the client every confidence in your ability to deliver what you are writing about. References can be web links, embedded links, images, sounds, music tracks, illustration or video. If possible, try and collate it all into one place, an ftp location, a website, a file share location or as zipped attachments to make it easy for the client to explore your references and not have to go to many different internet sites. Again, keeping the treatment easy to read, follow and absorb is paramount.

The Technical Breakdown

The technical section of a treatment should be very factual, very brief and very clear. The clarity will, once again, illustrate to the reader that you have carefully thought the process through and understand exactly what it will take to achieve the finished result. You will always be able to change your thinking with kit later, but at least at this early stage you have approached the idea with a way of technically creating your masterpiece. This paragraph will also illustrate your ability to handle both aspects of any motion graphics project, creativity and technical knowhow, the core components to any motion graphics designer.

Think about outlining what and how many computers you will need, how much disk storage space and backup will be required, which software packages will you be using and are there any specific plug-ins or presets that are relevant. Also take into account the amount of rendering time and hardware that will be needed, archiving considerations, and final delivery formats and other delivery aspects.

Music and Audio

As we all know, music and sound effects can really bring animation and video to life and is a major part of any visual experience. Touch on ideas you have for the music and sound design, include references to other similarly styled videos and describe the tone and atmosphere that the music will evoke with your visuals.

The Budget & Estimated Costs

Costs and quotes are also a huge factor in whether you will succeed in getting the project you desire, but refrain from including any mention of money in the treatment. Instead provide a separate quotation document including any reference to technical or creative specifics in the treatment.

The Conclusion / Summary

The final part of your treatment should act in a similar way to the introduction.

It is a short paragraph that allows you to quickly remind the reader of the key points you discussed in the rest of the document. It is also a chance to use good language to leave the reader wanting to see what you have described, wanting to explore further, wanting to make it come to life.

List of Components

INTRODUCTION – short and sweet

CONCEPT – main descriptive body of text

IMAGES – reference material

TECHNICAL – geeky but essential breakdown

AUDIO – style and reference guide

SUMMARY – the final roundup

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.

Hand Piercings, Finger Piercings, and Hand Web Piercings

Hand Piercings, Finger Piercings, and Hand Web piercings are all very rare and rather extreme. In fact, if you are even considering getting one of these piercings, you are truly one of the brave. The pain varies, and in fact usually there is minimal pain involved with the piercing, but the aftercare of these particular piercings is only for the stringent at heart.

Your hands are two of the most active places on your body. They are constantly in motion, they are full of germs, and they are very sensitive (all those nerves running through our hands help the brain process pain, pleasure, and temperatures). A contemporary phenomenon is getting the surfaces on your hands pierced. I’m not against these piercings at all, but more than most piercings, it is important you understand the risks before committing to the piercing.

Hand piercings are all surface piercings, so they are susceptible to the usual suspects – migration and rejection. Your hands are chock full of muscles, tendons, and nerves, so the constant motion of your hands don’t exactly work in your favor. Generally, the less disturbed the piercing area, the quicker and more successful the healing. With hand piercings you will not have the luxury keeping a hand “protected”. It will be exposed to the elements, germs, daily stresses, and abuses straightaway. For this reason, only get a hand piercing if you are willing to do the following.

First of all, you must clean it religiously. Your piercer will recommend cleaning it somewhere around three times a day with a warm saline solution – don’t skip this step! The saline helps keep the piercing site clean and free of buildup. You will have special instructions concerning which soap you can use, what moisturizer you can use, what liquids or gels you can’t put on your hands (Neosporin is always a no-no), ad infinitum. Smoking is definitely discouraged with a hand piercing, for the cigarette smoke that will inevitably drift around it will irritate your new piercing and prolong the healing. You must also be sure to keep the piercing site clean, not just from germs, but from dirt, trash, food, etc. Remember, you have a very delicate piercing that is being assaulted from all sides, so be careful!

Your lifestyle may have to change as well during the healing period. Besides not smoking, you shouldn’t be wearing gloves (they can tear the piercings out) or engaging in any activity that may put your hands at risk. If your career heavily depends on using your hands, you may want to think about getting one of these piercings extra carefully. Your everyday life will be affected by this piercing for at least a year – which is the general healing time. If you’ve never had a body piercing before, this probably isn’t a good one to start out with!

Now that the risks are known, and you still want to go ahead, here is what you can expect! For starters, don’t get pierced with a ring or hoop. You are just begging for it to get ripped out! Your hands touch too many objects everyday and a ring jutting out will get snared on something and it will be gone before you know it. Your piercer and you will decide if surface bars or curved barbells are best for your piercing location (which is largely determined by the shape of your hands, exact location, and lifestyle). It is not uncommon to have to get refitted a couple months after the piercing, for the swelling should have gone down enough to where you might need new jewelry to lie closer to the skin.

For hand piercings, the location can be almost anywhere. Surface bars will almost always be used, and the pain might be a bit intense. Rejection risk is high since there is not a lot of skin or tissue to penetrate, but with care this can be a relatively long term piercing.

Finger piercings generally don’t hurt nearly as much as they look, but these too have a high risk of migration. Generally pierced at the base of the finger to look like a ring, surface bars or barbells are used. The finger will swell after piercing, and is highly prone to infection, but by following the right aftercare and being super careful, you just may be able to make this piercing last a good long while.

Hand web piercings might be the most popular of the hand piercings – the webbing between each finger (especially between thumb and forefinger) is very thin and not hard to push a barbell through. It is also prone to rejection and migration, and infection is a very real possibility. This piercing should not affect your mobility (none of these piercings should affect any of your body functions), but the hand webs are major points in acupuncture therapy, so if you talk to an acupuncturist they probably won’t be keen on you receiving a piercing this area. There’s no western scientific evidence that piercing your hand webs will hurt you, but if you follow eastern medicine and science, you may want to hold off on web piercings.

All in all, piercings on the hand are rather extreme. They require constant care, zealous protection, regular cleaning, and even then it’s not a guarantee that these piercings will last. Yet, if you want to push the boundaries and your lifestyle affords it, you can try to get a piercing on your hand. For many people who successfully have them, it’s their favorite piercing!