"Facial piercing" is an umbrella term that refers to almost all piercings performed above the neck. This general area of the body is without doubt the first to be pierced in history.

Most commonly pierced (in approximate order of popularity):

Appearances of facial piercings in more modern cultures (i.e. not historical):

  • The earlobe piercing, without doubt the most popular type of piercing in history, found its way to Western culture through our favorite members of society: sailors. When Western sailors visited sundry native peoples of the East, they discovered the belief that a pierced ear gives the piercee better long-distance vision (a common idea in acupuncture). Sailors, being the superstitious group of people they were, and also in need of good eyesight, quickly picked up on the practice and soon brought it home to Europe.
  • The women of the Makololo tribe of Malawi pierce their lower lips and stretch the hole to wear large wooden plates called pelele. This is perhaps the most well-known historical example of lip piercing.
  • The Carafa Indians of South America wear a thin cane in the lower lip to symbolize coming of age.
  • The Tlingit tribe of Alaska have the "rims" of their children's ears pierced in an expensive ritual to increase social status. Nose piercing was a sign of social status in this tribe until relatively recently. Until the late 19th century, the Eskimo tribe defined social status by piercing the lower lip.
  • Many Indian women have their left nostril pierced; it is thought that this reduces the pains of childbirth.

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