History of Ear Gauging in Tribal Civilizations

A study of the history of ear gauging indicates the practice to be as old as recorded human history. For males, this form of ear piercing has been a symbol of status, while for women, in addition to being used as means of bodily decoration, it has also been employed to signify the attainment of womanhood.

Ear gauging, which is also referred to as ear stretching, is the stretching of ear lobe piercings to larger diameters than that of the original piercing. It is a form of body enhancement or beautification that many young western people adopt to look ‘different’ from the usual crowd. However, this is not a modern form of body piercing, since it has been around for as long as archaeological records exist.

In many cases, ear gauging has been used historically to indicate the standing of members of a specific tribe, and in many respects this is still the situation today. Stretched piercings have been, and still are, a reflection on the individual’s sexual capability and also their superiority over other males in the tribe. The larger the stretching, the more important the individual.

Otzi the Iceman is a prime example of mummies known to have stretched ears. This is the earliest known example of ear gauging, Otzi having 7-11 mm ear piercings during 3300 BC. It has been suggested that the stretching of the ears noted in depictions of Siddhartha Gautama, better known as Buddha, may have been caused by the weight of the gold jewelry he wore, but this is mere supposition.

It is supported, however, by the fact that the Masai tribe of Kenya and the Lahu and Karen-Paduang people of Thailand use this ‘gravity’ technique to stretch their piercings. Let us have a look at the ear gauging practices used today by various cultures.

A. Mursi Tribal Women

The Mursi is an Ethiopian tribe where the women are obliged to wear plates in their gauged ears and on their bottom lip. About a year prior to her marriage, or at about 15 years of age, a Mursi girl’s lip will be pierced by her mother and a wooden peg pushed through the incision.

Once healed, the peg is changed for a larger diameter one. Eventually, the peg is replaced by a plate of clay or wood, and this plate is successively changed for larger diameter ones until the required diameter is attained – from around 8 – 22 cm in diameter (3 – 9 inches). Once these plates have been secured, she receives a higher degree of respect than those without them, and is known as a ‘Bhansanai’.

These lip and ear plates need not be worn permanently, but are an expected adornment during special occasions such as during weddings and other celebrations, and when they serve food to men. Today, young women can generally make their own decision as to whether or not they follow this tradition.

B. The Masai People of Kenya

The practice of ear gauging has been common among Masai men and women for thousands of years. In recent years, however, most young men have not been following this custom, although you will still find many Masai women wearing ear decorations made from stones, cross-cut elephant tusks, wood and animal bones.

The original piercing is carried out using a thorn, sharpened twig or a sharp knife point. Once healed, ear gauging is then carried out by wearing increasingly heavy jewellery that pulls the lobe down and stretches the piercing. This is the traditional way of gauging ears in the more primitive cultures, although many Masai today will use proper ear gauging techniques, such as their own versions of insertion tapers or taper spikes. Beads are a common form of ornamentation, although plugs made from bone, tusks and wood are also used.

C. The African Fulani Tribe

Fulani women from Nigeria and Central Africa tend to use smaller diameter ear gauges, and decorate them using large gold domes or hoops carrying earrings. A Fulani child will have her ears pierced at around 3 years old, although they may not be stretched until she is older. The gauges used by Fulani women are relatively small compared to the Masai and Mursi, although the jewellery can be larger.

D. Asian Hill Tribes

Of the various hill tribes, the only two known to practice ear gauging are the Lahu from Thailand, and the Karen-Padaung (Longnecks) from Myanmar (Burma) and also the Phrae province in Thailand. That latter tribe are best known for their neck rings, offering the appearance of long necks, but both cultures believe the ear to be sacred and the more jewellery they can wear on the better. By gauging their ears, they are able to wear the maximum amount of jewellery they believe possible.

E. Mexican and Central American Civilizations

In Mayan and Aztec society, ear gauging was regarded as desirable for males. There are many Mayan representations of men with flares and ear plugs (ear spools) in gauged ears, and the material used was indicative of the social standing of the wearer. Jade ear plugs were worn by the higher classes, while the rest would use bone, stone, wood and other materials. In central Mexico, the craftsmanship of the Aztecs is evident in the ear gauging plugs and ornaments of gold and silver, though the lower classes would adorn their stretches earlobes with shells, copper and wood among many other imaginative materials.

Ear gauging has been carried out worldwide, and among other notable areas involved in this practice are Japan, where the Ainu used ear jewellery made from shells, bone and a ball and ring known as Ninkari. There are many other cultures worldwide where ear gauging was a part of their life, and even today many people regard ear stretching as a fashion statement and a way of expressing their own personality and individuality.

The History and Culture of Stretched Ears

People have been decorating and making changes to the appearance of their bodies since recorded history began. This has taken many forms through the ages, such as tattooing, piercing, stretching, scarring, branding, muscle sculpture, hair styling and many more, and for almost as many different reasons.

The three major purposes of these forms of body modification have historically been tribal (to display allegiance to one tribe or group of people), in war (to scare the enemy and distinguish friend from foe), and for fashion and perceived beauty. Ear stretching has been popular for centuries, but this popularity has increased in Western culture in recent years.

For some, there is a profound spirituality in the protracted process of stretching ears, while for others it is fun and more involved than simple ear piercing, and the fact that fewer people do it adds to its appeal. Others have their own reasons, but irrespective of these, stretched ears have always been part of human history and will continue to be so.

Reasons For Stretching Ears

Just as with other forms of body modification or enhancement, people have historically stretched their ears for a number of reasons. For some cultures, this represented a coming of age, while for others it was carried out to enhance beauty or sexuality. Throughout the ages it has been used both for religious reasons and to protect the subject from witchcraft or evil. Ear stretching is still carried out all over the world for a variety of reasons, including those mentioned above.

If you travel to Africa, you will find that stretched ears are common among many indigenous peoples, including the Maasia in east Africa, the Mursi in Ethiopia, and it is also carried out in some Asian countries such as Thailand. In South America, stretched ears are common amongst the Huaorami of the Amazon Basin, but you generally need go no further than your own hometown to see some excellent examples of ear stretching. Stretched piercings and flesh tunnels are now a common form of ear adornment for Western youth.

Icemen and Pharaohs

One of the more famous examples from history is Ötzi the Iceman, a 5,300 year-old mummified body found in the Alps between Austria and Italy. In addition to several tattoos, Ötzi had an ear stretched to around 7 mm – 11 mm diameter. The giant Easter Island statues display stretched ear lobes, the likely reason for them being known as ‘Long Ears’. The story goes that the statues were carved in honour of the original inhabitants of the island representing them with the earlobe stretchings that were part of their culture. When a different tribe arrived on the island, they were known as ‘Short Ears’, and were forced into slavery by the Long Ears. Eventually there were more Short Ears than Long Ears, and the latter were overthrown and the statues toppled over.

In Egypt, the boy king Tutankhamen is represented as having stretched ears, and his famous golden death mask features holes that can take 10 mm diameter bars. The processes used to stretch these famous sets of ears are not known, because there are many techniques that can be used. It is likely that primitive stretchings were carried out using wooden plugs or bamboo, and although a few people like to return to these early methods, they are not recommended today for health reasons.

Stretching Ears is Not Reversible

If you are interested in stretched ears, there are certain factors of which you should be aware. The first is that it is generally permanent. Once stretched, your ears stay that way. The holes do not heal over like a normal ear piercing, so make sure that you are happy with having stretched ears for the rest of your life. There is time at the beginning to stop and allow your ears to heal back to normal, but once the diameter reached 10-12 mm, it is too late and the hole will not close up. Another is that it takes time and patience. You do not visit a piercer and come out after an hour or two with stretched ears!

If you have decided that you want it done, you are advised to have the procedure carried out professionally. Yes, you can go it alone, but a professional will provide you with the best results, and it will also be safer. It will be quicker if your ears are already pierced, because otherwise you will need that done first and then wait up to 8 weeks for it to heal. Then you can start of the stretching, or gauging as it is often referred to.

That is because the diameter of the needles used is referred to as their ‘gauge’. The gauge of a needle drops as the diameter increases, so that an 18-gauge needle is small – in fact, that’s the gauge of an average initial piercing. Once you reach a 2 gauge, the diameter is that of a pencil and so on down. An 11 mm hole is 000-gauge (actually 11.11 mm or 7/16 inch).

Ear Stretching Should Not Be Rushed

As already explained, ear stretching is a slow process, and you should never try to rush it. If you try to rush, it will likely take longer eventually because unless the ear has time to get used to each lower gauge it won’t heal properly. You might then have to start all over again. Gauged ears should not bleed and there is distinct procedure to follow. Fundamentally, you increase the diameter of the piercing in small steps, allowing healing between each step. A common way to achieve this is to use an insertion taper, where one end of the taper is the same diameter as your existing hole, and the other side is of larger diameter.

This can be in the form of a stud that you wear until you are ready for the next size up. The next stud will have one end at the current diameter and the other at the lower gauge (larger diameter). That is pushed through and secured, and you wear that until the next insertion, and so on. If you keep your ears and jewellery clean and sterilized between sessions using anti-bacterial soap or saline solution then you should heal fine between each session – allow about two weeks between sessions.

Take the Advice of the Pros

It is very important to follow the advice of the professionals, and do not try to cut corners. Many people have ruined their ears by failing to be patient, so don’t let that be you. Follow cleaning instructions to the letter, both during and after the entire stretching process. There are many different types of ear jewellery available for stretched ears, including flesh tunnels, bars and rings.

There is also a wide choice of materials, from wood or plastic to gold and platinum. Many prefer glass while others find Teflon best, particularly if they suffer allergies. Niobium, surgical stainless steel and titanium are also popular materials for stretched ear jewellery.

Keep in mind that not all can be worn indefinitely, particularly the porous materials such as wood, shell and some plastics that can harbour bacteria, yeasts and fungi. Such jewellery should be regularly removed and thoroughly cleaned and sterilized. Ear stretching sets you apart from the usual crowd, and can be a very distinctive form of ornamentation. It is something that few people regret having done.

The Origin, Characteristics and Uses of Roman Lettering

The Roman lettering style was developed from an old inscription found at the foot of a column built by Emperor Trojan in Rome in 113 B.C. A Frenchman called Nicholas Jenson first created the Roman lettering style in the fifteenth century precisely in 1470. It is also referred to as ‘Classical Roman lettering’ or ‘Quadrata’. The Roman alphabet took at least seven centuries to develop and did not contain the letters, J, U, and W.

Roman letters have ornamental or finishing strokes called serifs at both the top and bottom parts of the letters. These serifs give the vertical strokes of the letters stability and also make the letters graceful. The serif may be angular, thin, rounded or rectangular in their representations. This accounts for the varieties of serifs such as beaked serif, hairline serif, bracketed serif, sheared serif and slab serif.

There are other features that distinct this style of lettering from other forms of lettering. The letters have varying strokes of thick and thin. The vertical strokes are generally thick while the horizontal strokes are usually thin. Also, the letters have different proportions or sizes due to the transcending of thick and thin strokes. They are extremely beautiful and attractive because of the diversity in their stroke formation. Variety, which is a feature that breaks monotony or one format, is highly acclaimed with elegance by many people.

In addition, the letters stand erect or upright. This formal outlook of this lettering style makes it very appropriate to be used for official documents. This explains why mot documents for such purposes are usually restricted to be created in this lettering style.

Furthermore, the letters are carefully drawn or constructed. Due to the close attention paid to proportion and space, measuring devices are used by amateur designers who create these letters manually. Measuring tools on design software help in creating accurate representations of letters on personal computers.

This lettering is widely used for various purposes. It is used in writing the reading materials in books, newspapers, and magazines due to its excellent trait of readability. Also, they are used in designing packages for products and greeting cards for wishing people success in examinations, speedy recovery in ill health situations and many others. Again, they are used in writing the text on posters, banners, and other visual communication tools. Moreover, messages on citations are written in Roman lettering style. Names of participants in workshops, seminars, and other educational programmes are written in roman lettering styles on certificates.

It is one of the elegant lettering styles that ensure the designing of products in visual communication. Its rudiments must be carefully mastered and utilised by artists to achieve the maximum benefits.

Surgical Steel Body Jewelry – Three Reasons Why Surgical Steel Body Jewelry is Your Best Choice

Are you interested in wearing body jewelry to give you a unique, fashionable look? If so, you should be aware of the many types that are available, and which are safest and most durable. Here are three reasons why you should put surgical steel body jewelry at or near the top of your list…

Varieties Of Body Jewelry Available

Much like traditional jewelry, body jewelry comes in many different styles, compositions, and price ranges. The most common is gold and gold plated. Solid gold, of course, is more expensive than gold plated. Organic, plastic, and glass are other types you will see.

Also popular is silver and steel. These minerals are relatively easy for jewelry craftsmen to work with, so you will find a lot of these on the market. What is important to understand is which are safest for you, your skin, and your piercings.

In general, plated pieces are the most prone to giving you unwanted skin problems and infections. You can generally tell by looking at their price tag or by asking a few simple questions. Most body jewelry costing less than five to ten dollars is plated, either with gold, silver, or steel.

Then again, some pieces crafted from glass or plastic are also in this price range, so it is best to ask before you buy. Glass and plastic are safer than plated items, but they are nowhere near as durable as those made from surgical steel, for example. We always recommend surgical steel body jewelry, especially for those on a limited budget. Here are the three main reasons why…

Surgical Steel Helps You Avoid Skin Problems

Surgical steel is a very high grade metal, and as the name suggests, it is frequently used in the medical profession where hygiene and safety are at a premium. If you buy from a reputable online source, you will get the best grade of surgical steel available.

The key is avoiding possible skin irritations and painful infections from buying plated or cheap pieces. Common sense precautions also come into play, like not letting anyone else wear your jewelry, nor borrowing any from someone else.

Reasonable Cost

You can buy body jewelry for as little as one dollar, and some pieces with precious stones run several hundred dollars. If you are on a budget, surgical steel items are ideal. Typically, you can get a durable, good looking piece for fifteen to twenty dollars.

Further, items made from this type of steel are available for any area of your body. Because it is increasing in popularity, you will find more and more selection of interesting and unique designs.

Durability

Steel is one of the most durable elements you can buy. Surgical steel is even stronger, so the item you buy will last for years.

Many other varieties of body jewelry will chip, fade, or tarnish. This is especially true with plated gold, silver, and plastic. Given their other risks, plated items in particular will not provide you any long lasting value.

Summary

Of the many varieties of body jewelry available, we recommend surgical steel as one of the safest, most economical choices. In general, you can find pieces in the fifteen to twenty dollar range, without fear of skin irritations or infections from cheaper grade metals.

Also, items made with this type of steel will last indefinitely. You can expect to own a fashionable, trendy item you can enjoy for years.