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.

The Art Of Telling Jokes – Do You Have It In You?

Making boring and insipid situations funny and lively comes easily to some people. It is as if they are born with an in-born talent to make people laugh and lighten dreary and lackluster atmosphere. Are you blessed with such a talent? Do you tend to crack jokes at the drop of a hat? Are you the most sought-after guy in the gang? Are your heaven and hell jokes the life of parties? Undoubtedly, you are a rare breed because the ability to make people laugh and cheer them up in boring times is an extraordinary ability that only a select few have.

Making People Laugh Is Fine Art

To be able to earn the reputation of an instant joke teller, your repertoire must go way beyond mere heaven and hell jokes. A good joke that can evoke the loudest laughter is one that fits the situation like a tee and has subtle connection to the conversation that’s going on. Of course, the way you deliver the joke, with the right emphasis and pauses, also makes a huge difference to the impact it can make.

Then there is always the danger of a joke falling flat. You might think the latest funny hipster jokes you heard or gathered recently from the web are the best but if they have been going around for some time, there is every chance that it could end up as a dud. A true entertainer must have an ear to the ground and know about the very latest jokes doing the rounds on the web, or at least in your circles.

Timing Is The Critical Element

Cracking the right joke at the right time and in the right situation is guaranteed to charge up the atmosphere and lighten up grave faces. You obviously cannot always control who’s standing next to you and what state of mind people under the same roof are in, but if you know how to crack the best ice breaker jokes, you can change the mood of the party dramatically. Laughter can break ice faster and make strangers behave like long last friends. That’s the power of a good joke.

Kids are the hardest to please because they have their own ideas about fun and entertainment. But here too, jokes can be the common entertainer that brings them all on the same plane. Of course, you need to choose kid jokes at kid parties so that they can identify with and understand quickly. Cracking government jokes or popular salesman jokes in a kids party is a sure-fire recipe for disaster.

Jokes are the secret formula for turning a boring day or situation into an extraordinary and exciting one. Explore the art of cracking one and you can light up many faces… and hearts!

Performing Arts and Its Branches

Dance, drama and music that are performed in front of many people or audiences are known to belong in performing arts. This type of art is different from plastic arts which only involve several artworks made from different type of materials like clay, paint, wood and metal. These artworks are often created by many artists and are displayed during exhibits but unlike performing arts, the presence of the artists is not required or is not necessary at all. When it comes to performing arts, the artists themselves together with their performances are the ones that the audiences are interested in. These people are then commonly known as performers.

This type of art is not new to the society because this has been around for so many years now. It actually started centuries ago. This type or art is even more common in schools all over the world and it often involves a number of people who all have the passion to please the crowd by showcasing their talents. By wearing a huge variety of costumes, wigs, masks, foot wears and other accessories, an artist becomes/transforms to a totally different person in front of the crowd and then performs.

As mentioned earlier, there are three branches of performing arts – the dance, drama and music. The first type of performing arts is dance which basically refers the movements of the human body using a particular rhythm. Performing a dance is not only intended to please the crowd but it is also a way to express the performer’s sentiments. It is also a way of showing the people different types of cultures or telling them about the history of a certain place. A dance can be in several forms like folk dance, ballet and many more.

Another branch of performing arts is the drama which is mainly about acting in front of the people. In a drama, the performers act out a particular story in order to entertain their audience. Aside from acting, music, dance, sound, speeches and other elements of performing arts are used for the best performance.

And the last branch of performing arts is music. Music does not only refer to the musical instruments or the sounds that they make, it also involves the people who play the instruments and the voices of the people singing. Music basically started several years ago and from then it became one of the most popular ways to entertain people. Usually, there are four things which make music complete – the pitch, rhythm, dynamic and the timbre.

Each of the branches of performing arts plays a very important role in the entertainment world. All these things make performing arts complete and very interesting. Not only because it is a very good way to entertain people but because this is also a way for other people to see the skills and talents of the performers. It is also a very good way to let the whole world know on what are the things that the performers can do and offer.

Using Bitumen In Art

An ever-increasing amount of artists throughout the entire world are using bitumen as they are beginning to discover the many ways in which this medium can enhance their artwork.

What is bitumen? Bitumen can be described as a sticky, black and highly viscous liquid or semi-solid which is found in most crude petroleums as well as in some natural deposits, sometimes termed asphalt, it is thick and heavy and has to be heated or diluted before it will flow. The primary use of bitumen is in road construction, where it is used as the glue or binder for the aggregate particles.

Bitumen is often utilized in artwork in the following way: If you wish to add another layer of interest to your painting, try painting bitumen over the surface area, after which you can wipe back selected sections of the bitumen with turpentine, you’ll then see how the impressive effect can add another interesting dimension to your creation. I suggest that you use a test canvas first for experimenting, once you have achieved the desired effect and the look that best suits you then go forth and incorporate this amazing medium into your artwork, it will transform your art into something which is compelling and uniquely yours.

Bear in mind that bitumen could also be painted over various surfaces so for all those artists out there who love texture and layering, you will discover that this really is a fantastic medium to layer over a textured surface, for example: If you are using foil as a medium on canvas and you have painted the desired colour that you are wanting over the foil, you could then paint over the colour with bitumen, wipe it back with turpentine and see how bitumen can showcase the texture and once again add another level of interest and intrigue to your artwork.

The possibilities are endless and once you start experimenting with this particular medium you will begin to see how the many ways in which you are able to use it in art is merely limited by the imagination.