The wearing of rings in different parts of the human body is quite fashionable nowadays. It is called body piercing. Such habit can be found in the history of most cultures. Such habit often creates conflicts especially between kids and their parents. Parents usually try to convince their children to give up any idea of piercing their own bodies and wearing tattoos. Also kids rebel against it and often become experts in such things. But this habit of wearing pierces is quite ancient.
The oldest mummy in Europe called Otzi, the Iceman, dating from about 5300 years ago is one of the most solid proofs of the existence of this skin piercing ritual back in those times. The very well preserved ear of the iceman is pierced for an earring with the approximate size of 11 millimeters in diameter. This habit can also be found in most of the South American and African tribes, and also in the Indian castes and Egyptian royal families. Even if the last mentioned ones used to practice elaborated beauty rituals for their own bodies, body piercing being one of the methods they used to embellish their own bodies. Most people used only earrings to embellish their own faces. The Pharaohs were most privileged in this respect. They used to wear gold rings in their belly buttons. But this fashion was completely forbidden to ordinary people. If they dared to wear gold rings in their belly buttons like the pharaohs, common people could even risk to be sentenced to death.
Unlike for the Egyptians, for the Romans body piercing had a much practical reason. Thus, it was meant to underline power or masculinity. Roman soldiers used to pierce their nipples and wore rings as a sign of distinction to signify the army's unity and power. This practice was used even by Julius Caesar, especially in order to support this typically army trait. Romans used belly button rings to support their robes also.
In the art part of the world, across the ocean, the Mayas and the Aztecs used to practice impressive rituals which involved the adornment of the tongue, and this habit was strongly related to the religious ceremonies developed to honor the gods and which had the purpose of bringing people closer to gods. On the other hand, women who wore pierces in their lips were considered to be more attractive. Maya had even developed extremely strange rituals for enlarging their lips. Also, tongue piercing was considered to be a way of bringing bloody sacrifices to their gods.
Apart from tongue piercings, tribe members and especially warriors, used to wear fangs in their nasal septum for the purpose of scaring their enemies. On the other hand, the New Guinea primitive tribes developed an entire art of adorning their bodies with interesting rings, made of various materials including feather, bones and elephant ivory. Hundreds of years later sailors carried on with the habit of earrings' wearing, because of the exaggerated faiths and superstitions. Sailors would begin their journey wearing a huge gold earring or a huge gold piercing on their arm. They believed that by wearing such jewelry, they would have a safe, happy travel.
During the Renaissance earrings became an essential accessory for wealthy people, who paid an excessive attention to the fashion of those times. Wealthy men used to wear at least one big-sized pearl or diamond to show off the level of their fortune. In addition to that, they saw it as a great honor to wear a piece of jewelry offered by a member of the royal family. During the same period and later on during the reign of Queen Victoria, appeared the habit of using rings for sexual pleasures, practiced both by men and women.
The habit of wearing pierces in some other body parts than the ears was re-established in the 20th century, when the hippie age began. It was brought from India by hippies, who burrowed the custom of wearing nose-piercing jewels from the Indian women. These are a few facts about the appearance and early uses of body piercing. So it seems that the old cannot blame the young for wanting to be fashionable and wear such things, since they have such a long tradition.