"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):
- ear: most commonly the earlobe, but upper cartilage piercings are appearing everywhere. See various ear piercings for specifics.
- nose: most commonly the nostril, but the septum often is pierced too, plus variations like the nasallang, bridge and septril piercings.
- eyebrow: normally vertical but is sometimes done horizontally, plus variations like the inner eyebrow, anti-eyebrow (surface piercing on the cheekbone), and orbital.
- tongue: usually pierced vertically, but can also be pierced horizontally, plus variations like lingual frenulum.
- lip: and nearby locations such as the labret, lowbret, madonna, medusa, scrumper and frowny, plus variations like a vertical labret or horizontal lip piercing.
- cheek: basically like a lip piercing that's placed very far away from the mouth.
- nape: at the nape of the neck, so I guess it's a judgement call whether it's a facial or a body piercing.
- chin: quite uncommon; usually vertical in the cleft of the chin, but could be horizontal
- mandible/vertical lowbret: extremely uncommon.
- uvula: I kid you not. I suppose this could be called a facial piercing, but it's so uncommon that it hasn't been labelled yet.
- eyelid: well I'd never get one, but there are some people...
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.