Piercings throughout history.

Historic questions, thoughts and other interesting stuff

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Chaucers Closet
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Piercings throughout history.

Post by Chaucers Closet »

Hi,

Is there much if any reference for facial or body piercings throughout history in Europe? I currently portray an English archer of the 14th century. And while I know it's unlikely that they would have any piercings, I was wondering if it was possible?

I know piercings have been around since year one, but they mainly seem to be restricted to the Oceanic continent and Africa.

i've currently got 8 visible facial piercings, Lower labret, 8mm stretch in both lobes, 6mm lobes, 3 Helix. (have all ready lost my eye staple after i forgot to remove it when wearing a maille coif. ouch) While i remove them during events, I get the usual questions from mops about them, would they be done / worn.

Thanks.
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rowana
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Re: Piercings throughout history.

Post by rowana »

I believe it was known to have a single loop in your ear sometimes, as a way of carrying your wealth.

But I am sure more learned than me can advise you further.

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Re: Piercings throughout history.

Post by Marcus Woodhouse »

I have seen one picture of a Moorish woman in the 15th century.
I don't think they were common at all, and as you have found out not an altogether good idea to mix with period costume (especially armour.)
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Chaucers Closet
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Re: Piercings throughout history.

Post by Chaucers Closet »

Most definitely not a good idea while wearing armour, still got the scar.

I didn't think it was common, but as it was known in other area's throughout history, I was wondering if it was known in europe? when did they first appear? and if there was periods when it went in and out of fashion why?
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Grymm
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Re: Piercings throughout history.

Post by Grymm »

If anyone has pics it'll be the divine Miss Larsdatter. http://www.larsdatter.com/

'part from that the only pic by a European showing piercings, but not necessarily portraying Europeans with piercings, that springs to my mind is this'un

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and that may just be 'Ronnies, very unPC way of racial stereotyping Middle Eastern types or Gypsies.
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Fox
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Re: Piercings throughout history.

Post by Fox »

I've heard it said that an earing in an illustration [in the medieval period] was probably artists short-hand for "foreigner".

Even if that's true, it tells you something, although you might want to be careful about what it tells you.

Gobae
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Re: Piercings throughout history.

Post by Gobae »

The Hallstatt Celts made this clearly showing the women probably wore earrings.

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IagotheHungry
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Re: Piercings throughout history.

Post by IagotheHungry »

I've seen plenty of Roman and pre-Roman Greek earrings, but they're always asssociated with women in my experience. Never to my knowledge seen one on a man in pictures pre-Lizzie I, except, as you say, on foreigners...

Friend of mine lost a nipple piercing when she (!!) was in the SK. Very unpleasant, as you can relate to... :S
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Foxe
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Re: Piercings throughout history.

Post by Foxe »

As an aside, I've never been terribly happy about the "portable wealth" idea. An earring contains only a tiny amount of metal, that would be far more tradeable in coin form, and better stored in a purse than on display for every passing mugger to "case".
...and further this Informant saith not.

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Lord High Everything Esle
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Re: Piercings throughout history.

Post by Lord High Everything Esle »

Well you could always cover them in bloody bandages, much more authentic!!
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aoefa
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Re: Piercings throughout history.

Post by aoefa »

I have a couple of facial piercings and multiple in my ears, I remove them for all truly authentic shows or for a couple I can't I cover with my head covering without argument, they just wouldn't have had them. I have others the public can't see and have been fighting with them in place for years with no painful accidents, if you're worried they may catch, just cover them with a plaster.
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Karen Larsdatter
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Re: Piercings throughout history.

Post by Karen Larsdatter »

This is one of those "it depends" questions ... for a 14th century English archer, probably not; but for a 16th century English noblewoman, sure.

Check out http://larsdatter.com/earrings.htm for a bunch of examples.

As regards the Bosch image above, and other images in 15th century northern European art, see "Marked Difference: Earrings and 'The Other' in Fifteenth-Century Flemish Art" (in Encountering Medieval Textiles and Dress: Objects, Texts, Images).

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