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rec.arts.bodyart: Piercing FAQ 8--Historical Information

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Archive-name: bodyart/piercing-faq/historical
Last-modified: May 01, 2000
Posting-frequency: Quarterly

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
Summary: This posting contains information about body piercing. Anyone 
    interested in the subject and/or who wishes to read/post to 
    rec.arts.bodyart should read the Piercing FAQ first.

The rec.arts.bodyart Piercing FAQ is divided into 30 parts:

2A--Jewelry Materials
2B--Jewelry Sizes & Designs
2C--Facial Piercings & Their Suggested Jewelry
2D--Body Piercings & Their Suggested Jewelry 
2E--Genital Piercings & Their Suggested Jewelry
3--Getting A New Piercing
4A--Professional Organizations, Piercing Instruction
4B--Professional Piercers - United States - Alabama - California
4C--Professional Piercers - United States - Colorado - Iowa
4D--Professional Piercers - United States - Kansas - Nevada
4E--Professional Piercers - United States - New Hampshire - North Dakota
4F--Professional Piercers - United States - Ohio - Pennsylvania
4G--Professional Piercers - United States - Rhode Island - Wyoming
4H--Professional Piercers - Canada
4I--Professional Piercers - Beyond N. America
4J--Professional Piercers - Beyond N. America Cont'd
5--Care Of New Piercings
6--The Healing Process & Healing Problems
7--Healed Piercings
8--Historical Information
9A--Resource List
9B--Resource List Cont'd
10A--Personal Experiences - Facial & Unisex Piercings
10B--Personal Experiences - Genital Piercings
10C--Personal Experiences - Genital Piercings Cont'd
10D--Personal Experiences - Genital Piercings Cont'd
11A--Jewelry Manufacturers
11B--Jewelry Manufacturers Cont'd
11C--Jewelry Manufacturers Cont'd

This section includes:

8  Historical Information
   8.1  History Of The Nipple Piercing
      8.1a  History of the Nipple Piercing
      8.1b  Titrings, a Bit of History
   8.2  The Apadravya in the Kama Sutra
   8.3  History of Late 20th C. Piercing

All texts written and (c) 2000 by Anne Greenblatt unless otherwise
Please see Part 1 of the FAQ for information regarding copyright and
dissemination of the FAQ.

DISCLAIMER!  The Piercing FAQ contains material of a sexually explicit
nature. The information contained in the Piercing FAQ should not be
construed as medical advice.

For a list of historical and anthropological publications about
tribal and ethnic piercing practices, please refer to Part 9 of the 
Piercing FAQ.


8.1a ³History of the Nipple Piercing²
   by "Boy Brent" <>

A hundred years ago they were piercing a lot more than their ears. In
1890s nipple piercing was very much in vogue for Victorian women. 

In _Anatomy and Destiny_ (Bobbs-Merrill, 1974, p. 97), Stephen Kern 
explains that: 

  "In the late 1890s the 'bosom ring' came into fashion briefly and sold
  in expensive Parisian jewelry shops. These 'anneaux de sein' were 
  inserted through the nipple, and some women wore one on either side 
  linked with a delicate chain. The rings enlarged the breasts and kept 
  them in a state of constant excitation...The medical community was 
  outraged by these cosmetic procedures, for they represented a
  of traditional conceptions of the purpose of a woman's body."

In _The Golden Age of Erotica_ (Paperback Library, 1968, p. 264), by 
Bernhardt Harwood:

  "No more perfect example of Victorian extremism can be found than the
  unbelievable breast piercing craze that swept London in the 1890s. 
  This barbaric practice achieved fantastic popularity among seemingly 
  sane, civilized English women, who submitted to the excruciating pain 
  of having their nipples pierced in order to insert decorative gold
  jeweled rings.

  "In an attempt to explain what had driven so many females to embrace
  a crackpot fad, a fashionable London modiste wrote a letter to a
  magazine, which stated in part, "For a long time could not understand
  I should consent to such a painful operation without sufficient
reason. I
  soon, however, came to the conclusion that many ladies are ready to
  the passing pain for the sake of love. I found that the breasts of
  who wore rings were incomparably rounder and fuller developed than
  who did not. My doubts were now at an end...So I had my nipples
  and when the wounds healed, I had rings inserted...With regard to the
  experience of wearing these rings, I can only say that they are not
  the least uncomfortable or painful. On the contrary, the slight
  and slipping of the rings causes in me an extremely titillating
  and all my colleagues to whom I have spoken on this subject have 
  confirmed my opinion."

8.1b ³Titrings, a Bit of History²
   by D. W. Jones

Titrings turn out to have a longer history than most of us seem to
these days. A titring is a ring worn through a piercing in (or just
the nipple. Today, such rings are growing in popularity in certain
of the population, amon g both men and women. The required piercings
can be obtained, for a fee, in many cities, and there are jewelers who
jewelry specifically intended for wearing in such piercings. 

Some may object to the name titring, preferring the propriety of the
nipple-ring. It seems odd to seek a proper sounding name for a piece of 
jewelry most people in our society would consider inherently improper,
I prefer the term titring for the same reason I'd prefer to call a ring 
worn through the earlobe an earring, not an earlobe-ring. I see no
point in being annoyingly specific about exactly what part of the ear
is pierced. Similarly, a ring worn through the nostril is, according to
Indian women 
I've met who routinely wear such jewelry, a nosering, not a
The terms I prefer are short, descriptive, flow off the tongue with
little effort, and generally likely to be based on common and sometimes
English instead of on Latinate or scientific usage. 


Adams, Cecil. "Chain Letter", from _More of the Straight Dope_.

Fuchs, Eduard. _Illustrierte Sittengeschichte vom Mittelalter bis Zur
Gegenwart, Das Burgerliche Zeitalter Erganzungsband_. Albert Langen, 
Munich, 1912:

  This book turns out to be in 6 lavishly illustrated volumes (over 500 
  pages per volume) and Kern's citation was incomplete. The book is a 
  complete history and commentary on all aspects of sexuality, from
  art to clothing through the ages, along with courtship, nudism, 
  prostitution, and much more. 

The passage cited by Kern is on pages 67 and 68 of the supplement to 
Volume 3, in the chapter titled "Erster Teil, Erganzungen und Exkurse."

In 1898 a single Bond Street jeweller is supposed to have performed the 
nipple-boring operation on forty English ladies and young girls, and
lady quoted above also confirmed the spread of this custom among the
fashionable women of London. In fact many ladies, instead of rings, had

small chains fastened from breast to breast, and a celebrated actress
the Gaiety Theatre wore a pearl chain with a bow at each end.

I have not read Pelham's work in its original context, but it appears
both he and Fuchs made extensive use of the same English source, one 
article in "Society," a journal unavailable to me. I would like to find 
other sources, but have not yet done so. 

Titrings have an interesting collection of names in other languages: 

In French, "des anneaus de sein", literally, rings of the nipples or
of the breasts. I looked up "sein" in Larousse, and the word appears to
properly translate as anything from bosom to tit, depending on context
or convention. 

In German, "der Busenringen", an archaic term, literally "bosom rings." 
In German, "Brustwartzenringe" is the common term today, literally
"nipple-rings" (nipples are "breast-warts" in German). 

In German, "intimschmuck", or in Swedish, "intimsmycke", intimate
or decorations, refers to all kinds of jewelry worn "below the neck."


From the unexpurgated printing of the Kama Sutra printed in 1963 by
Castle Books, NY:

"Or he can make use of an apadravyas, which is a tubular object that is
tied around the lingam [penis] to enlarge and lengthen it so that it can
completely fill the yoni [vagina].

"Bhabravaya states that these apadravya should be fashioned out of gold,
silver, brass, iron, ivory, buffalo horn, tin, lead or different kinds
wood. They should be soft, clean, capable of arounsing the lingam to a
greater effort and perfectly made so that they can fulfill their purpose
without difficulty or discomfort.

"But the author of this work is inclined to believe that each one should
fashion the apadravyas to his own taste.

"There are many different sorts of apadravyas:
  1) The Brace (Valaya): this apadravya should be the same size as the 
  lingam itself and the exterior surface should be rough.
  2) The Pair (Sanghati): this is formed with two braces.
  3) The Bracelet (Chudaka): this is composed of three or more braces 
  joined together until they achieve the necessary length.
  There exists also a simpler form of bracelet, which is composed of an 
  iron thread which is rolled around the lingam to support and
  4) The Kantuka or Jalaka: this is a hollow tube, which has a rough 
  exterior carved with soft bumps whose size has been estimated in 
  relation to the dimensions of the yoni. The Kantuka is slipped around 
  the lingam and attached to a belt.

"If one is caught unprepared and does not have a Kantuka at hand, a
device can be made out of the branch of an apple tree or the tubular
of a gourd, or a reed softened with oils and extracts of plants, or even
with pieces of polished wood attached together. All these devices should
be attached to a belt like the orthodox Kantuka.

"These devices can be used to cover and help the lingam, or in some
as a substitute, as in the case of two women.

"Among the people of the south there is a belief that one cannot enjoy
truly intense sexual pleasure unless the lingam has been perforated.

"Now if a young man wishes to try this method, he should pierce the
with a very sharp instrument and then sit in water until the bleeding
stopped. The same evening he should indulge in a very active form of
intercourse so that the hole can be cleansed. After this, he should
to wash the hole with various liquids and if he wishes he can make the
larger by inserting reeds which will gradually enlarge the orifice. One
also wash the wound with a mixture of honey mixed with liquorice, and
the hole with a little oil.

"In this hole across the ligam one can insert any kinds of Apadravyas
as: the Round (round on one side); -the wooden mortar; -the flower; -the
bracelet; -the heron's bone; -the elephant's goad; -the eight balls;
lock of hair; -and other such objects, which are named after the shapes
purposes they serve. All these apadravya should possess a rough exterior
which adds to the efficacy of their use."


In the US, Doug Malloy, along with Jim Ward and Fakir and, in England,
Oversby aka Mr. Sebastian, are credited with being the grandfathers of
20th century piercing practices. The popularity of body piercing as we
it started in the mid to late 1970's in the San Francisco gay leather
scene. During the late 1970's body piercing became popular among punks
the U.S. and England. Body piercing remained an "underground" practice
the early 1990's by which time it was popular in many musical
(Alternative Rock, Rave, Goth) and began to appear in music videos, on
television talk shows and, perhaps most unexpectedly, on fashion

Doug Malloy created a number of the piercings now considered standard.
of the "ancient history" of piercing described by Doug Malloy was
and invented by him; he never produced any concurrent written records
of his
findings. For information and interviews with Doug Malloy, Jim Ward,
and the creation of Gauntlet, the first full time piercing studio of the
United States, please refer to the book _Modern Primitives_, 1989,

Why do people get pierced?  The motivations often include one or more
of the following reasons:

  - for aesthetics, the look
  - for sensual pleasure, sensual play or adding sensation
  - to mark a special event on one's life
  - as a symbol of commitment in a relationship
  - as a symbol of possession or for chastity (for example, in an S&M 
  - as a means or signifier of reclamation (for example, as an abuse

Some people endure the piercing process for the final result. Others
the process or enjoy the sensation. The pain releases endorphins, the
body's own pain killers, which some people find a pleasurable effect of


                              Anne Greenblatt
                Manager of the rec.arts.bodyart Piercing FAQ
                             Piercing Exquisite

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