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Piercing Our Past - Bod Mod in the ancient world

Body modification, ie. piercing, scarring, branding, tattooing, etc. have been a part of wo/man's adventure through his/her sexual history. Although in the past decade or so, body mod has seen a resurgence, for many years, anything beyond ear piercing was simply not acceptable. Hold over from the reign of prudery of Victoria assured society of its place in mediocrity until the sub-cultures busted through the veil of society's disdainful sniffs once more.

Today, piercing and tattooing, scarification and alteration are nearly common place as people take on outward signs of their personalities. Most cultures throughout history felt strongly about the use of adornment, permanent or temporary, as a sign of pride and self-confidence. The art of skin painting with henna has seen the light of current fashion and women's magazines. Brides-to-be used hand painting as a way to make herself more attractive to her mate.

Tribal and cultural bod mod is seen in ancient and near-modern myths and rituals. Both for the religious connotations and for the sexuality involved. In the early history of the Filipino peoples, the males would have their penises pierced with small gold rods in the fashion that today is called a palang. Both ends of the rod were fashioned with tiny spurs. During sex, the man used extreme gentleness to insert his pierced manhood into the woman. And as his erection occurred, the spurs dug into the very delicate flesh of the female's inner sanctum. He was unable to withdraw until his erection had receded by whatever means.

Pierced nipples are legend among the queens and ladies of the ancient world. Egypt's Cleopatra was said to have had one inverted nipple and had it pierced to cause its return to perky posture. She apparently used tiny smoothed pebbles and inserted them into her pierced part to fill out the detail of her malformation.

Gladiators were genitally pierced for two reasons. The first being a functional purpose. When they fought naked in the arenas, their penises were tied down by means of a thin leather strap through the ring piercing the head of their organ, to their upper thigh or around the testicles. This kept "it" out of harm's way during the swinging of very sharp instruments in the vicinity of their genitals. The second function being that once restricted, the subclasses could no longer attain pregnancy by the great fighters. Unions and the resulting offspring were highly sought after by the women of the day.

The Frenum or piercing which crosses just beneath the head on the underside of the penis, was used in the ancient mid-east and east as a way to prevent any form of sodomy. However, the Frenum is also proven to enhance greatly, the sexual enjoyment of the female. The Kama Sutra talks about attaching devices to the frenum piercings to enhance the woman's pleasure. These devices ranged from a small ring or ripple of glass or gold, to a horsehair collar. Ecstasy to "excuse me?"

Women of the south Pacific islands would stretch and elaborately pierce their labia. This, they felt, would help them to attract a husband.

Piercing to a female's genital lips were thought to make her more valuable as a wife in ancient tribal customs of central Africa. An entire ceremony of womanhood was performed around these piercings, complete with sacred blessings and the symbolic sacrifice of her girlhood.

Bod Mod is as prevalent today as in our earliest histories. Youth and adults alike now have tongue piercing, ears, face, breasts and genitals. Unfortunately, the rituals of sacrificing or adornment of the body no longer are a part of the whole experience. Rites of passage seem to be receding further into our murky background. Perhaps the resurrection of Bod Mod has enabled the Rites of Passage once again to instill self-confidence, individuality and pride. Long live self-expression.


Copyright - 2001




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