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Historical past of ear measurement in tribal civilizations

Stretching (28)

A research of the historical past of measuring the ears signifies that the follow is as outdated as recorded human historical past. For males, this type of ear piercing has been a standing image, whereas for girls, apart from getting used as a way of physique ornament, it has additionally been used to indicate the accession to femininity.

Ear gauge, also called ear stretch, is the stretching of earlobe piercings to bigger diameters than the unique piercing. It’s a type of enhancement or beautification of the physique that many younger Westerners undertake to seem “totally different” from the standard crowd. Nonetheless, it’s not a contemporary type of physique piercing, because it has been round for so long as an archaeological file has existed.


In lots of circumstances, the measurement of the ears has been used traditionally to point the place of members of a selected tribe, and in some ways it’s nonetheless the case at this time. Stretched piercings have been, and nonetheless are, a mirrored image on the person’s sexual capability and in addition on his superiority over different males within the tribe. The better the stretch, the extra vital the person.


Otzi the Ice Man is a major instance of mummies recognized to have stretched ears. That is the primary recognized instance of ear measurement, Otzi having ear piercings of seven to 11 mm in 3300 BC. It has been prompt that the stretching of the ears famous in depictions of Siddhartha Gautama, higher referred to as the Buddha, could have been attributable to the load of the gold jewellery he wore, however that is solely a assumption.

It’s nevertheless supported by the truth that the Masai tribe of Kenya and the Lahu and Karen-Paduang peoples of Thailand use this “gravity” approach to stretch their piercings. Let’s check out the ear measurement practices utilized by numerous cultures at this time.

A. Ladies of the Mursi tribe

The Mursi are an Ethiopian tribe the place girls are pressured to put on plates on their calibrated ears and on their decrease lip. A couple of yr earlier than her marriage ceremony, or round 15, a Mursi lady’s lip will likely be pierced by her mom and a picket peg pushed into the incision.

As soon as healed, the stake is changed by a stake of bigger diameter. Ultimately, the dowel is changed with a clay or wooden plate, and this plate is successively modified for plates of bigger diameter till the required diameter is reached – from about 8 to 22 cm in diameter ( 3 to 9 inches). As soon as these plaques have been secured, she receives a better diploma of respect than those that don’t and is called “Bhansanai”.

These lip and ear plates don’t have to be worn on a regular basis, however are an anticipated adornment on particular events corresponding to weddings and different celebrations, and when serving meals to males. At the moment, younger girls can normally resolve for themselves whether or not or to not observe this custom.

B. The Maasai individuals of Kenya

The follow of measuring the ears has been widespread amongst Maasai women and men for hundreds of years. In recent times, nevertheless, most younger males haven’t adopted this practice, though you’ll nonetheless discover many Maasai girls sporting ear decorations manufactured from stones, cross-cut elephant tusks, antlers, and animal bones.


The unique piercing is completed utilizing a thorn, a pointy twig or a pointy knife level. As soon as healed, ear gauging is then performed by sporting heavier and heavier jewellery that pulls the lobe down and stretches the piercing. That is the normal approach of gauging ears in additional primitive cultures, though many Maasai at this time use correct ear gauging strategies, corresponding to their very own variations of insert cones or taper suggestions. Beads are a typical type of ornamentation, though bone, tusk, and wooden stoppers are additionally used.

C. The African Fulani tribe

Fulani girls in Nigeria and Central Africa have a tendency to make use of smaller diameter ear gauges and embellish them with giant gold domes or hoops sporting earrings. A Fulani baby could have her ears pierced across the age of three, though they can’t be stretched till she is older. The gauges utilized by Fulani girls are comparatively small in comparison with the Maasai and Mursi, though the jewellery may be bigger.

D. Asian hill tribes

Among the many numerous hill tribes, the one two recognized to follow ear measurement are the Lahu of Thailand and the Karen-Padaung (Longnecks) of Myanmar (Burma) in addition to the province of Phrae in Thailand. This latter tribe is finest recognized for his or her neck rings, providing the looks of lengthy necks, however each cultures imagine that the ear is sacred and that the extra jewellery they will put on, the higher. By measuring their ears, they’re able to put on as a lot jewellery as they assume doable.

E. Mexican and Central American Civilizations

In Mayan and Aztec society, ear measurement was thought-about fascinating for males. There are various Mayan depictions of males with flares and earplugs (ear coils) in calibrated ears, and the fabric used was indicative of the social standing of the wearer. Jade earplugs had been worn by the higher courses, whereas others used bone, stone, wooden, and different supplies. In central Mexico, Aztec craftsmanship is obvious in earplugs and gold and silver ornaments, though the decrease courses adorn their earlobes with seashells, copper, and wooden amongst many many different imaginative supplies.

Ear sizing has been performed all around the world, and different notable areas concerned on this follow embrace Japan, the place the Ainu used ear jewellery produced from seashells, bones, and a ball. and a hoop referred to as Ninkari. There are various different cultures on this planet the place ear measurement was part of their life, and even at this time many individuals contemplate ear stretching a trend assertion and a option to categorical their very own persona and individuality.



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