Did you know that the practice of ear stretching dates back to important historical figures like King Tut of Egypt as well as Buddha of the Buddhist religion? Getting plugs and stretching your ear lobes out is a unique look that has major cultural significance throughout human history. The history of ear stretching is long and interesting, and worth exploring if you’ve always loved stretched ears.
If you’re ready to explore different forms of body art and self-expression then you need to look into tunnels and plugs and the famous historical figures that rocked these piercings and looks. The good news is that you’ve found the right guide for learning more about the history of ear stretching.
Keep reading this article to learn more about stretched ears today!
The History of Ear Stretching
The history of ear stretching dates back thousands of years into the past. Some parts of society might have a difficult time with the appearance of plugs and stretching, but this look has been a part of many different cultures and religions worldwide.
Some cultures look at ear stretching as part of their holy rituals, while others viewed it as a way to express one’s self. The first method that cultures used to get their ears to stretch was ear weights. They’d also put jewelry made of stones and bones in their piercings.
You’ll find a number of tribes out in the world that still actively practice ear stretching in their cultures. The majority of these cultures are found in Asia. Here’s a closer look at other facets of ear stretching across history.
A number of cultures looked at body modification and piercings as a right of passage in tribal society. This tradition was common on a number of continents and in a ton of different eras. Cultures like the ancient Egyptians, Mayans, and Aztecs all practiced the art of stretched ears.
You can also find evidence across the tribes of Asia and Africa in which these cultures encouraged and practiced ear stretching. The statues on Easter Island off the coast of Chile are a perfect example of the elongated ears of that culture. They came into conflict with a neighboring tribe known as the “short ears” since they didn’t have stretched ears or ear gauges.
Ear Stretching Dates Back to the Bronze Age
The first evidence of the history of ear stretching dates back to the Bronze Age in history. King Tut’s life might seem like it was eons ago, but he’s not even the oldest documented case of someone in history having tunnels and plugs. The preserved corpse of Otzi the Iceman found in the Alps, is the oldest example of someone in history having stretched ears.
This corpse dates back to around 3,300 BCE, making it by far the oldest mummy found with stretched ears anywhere in the world. He also had tattoos that were still intact on his skin, showing that his culture also believed in using ink in addition to ear weights.
It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that body modification and piercings are a form of self-expression as old as humanity itself. Civilizations around the globe also practiced these cultural and spiritual methods.
Egyptian Culture Loved Stretched Ears
The Egyptians weren’t afraid to start the practice of ear stretching early on in the lives of their children. King Tut is the most notable example of an Egyptian with stretched ears, as his ears were stretched to 00 gauge. These stretched ears, tunnels, and plugs are all present in the death mask of his tomb.
Pharaohs weren’t the only people in Egyptian civilization that were using ear weights. Many people in Egyptian art are shown with stretched ear lobes throughout multiple eras. Normal, everyday Egyptians also loved their ear jewelry and their stretched ears.
They started stretching their ears at a young age. The typical practice involved keeping the gauges in for all of childhood before leaving them behind when going into adulthood. Many historians believe that this is the reason behind no other Pharaohs getting depicted with stretched ears.
Asian Cultures Wore Ear Weights
While the Egyptians might have made stretched ears more famous, Asian cultures took things to a different level altogether. Most Eastern gods and deities are shown with stretched ears and plugs. Gautama Buddha is the most famous historical figure in Asia with stretched ears.
The reason behind the stretched ears in Asian civilizations was the weight of the earrings. Even after Buddha stopped wearing his earrings his ears stayed stretched.
The Dayak tribe that is native to Borneo was more focused on the length of the ears rather than the diameter of the hole. They wore heavy brass jewelry in their ears that would help to make them stretch more. These ear weights were a sign of power within the tribe, and some of them weighed more than one pound.
Piercings Were Done Through Nature
The ancient tribes and civilizations that practiced ear stretching didn’t have the medical-grade technology that piercing parlors have today. They made use of whatever they could get their hands on at that point in time.
Some people used plant roots that were sharpened to a point while others used the quills of a porcupine. Even bones were capable of getting filed down and used to create piercings in the ears and other spots on the body. They also used herbal salves to prevent infection and speed up the recovery process after the piercing got completed.
Now You Know the History of Ear Stretching
Getting body piercings is a great way to express your personality and your spirit, but it’s also important to honor the history of ear stretching. It’s a practice that dates back thousands of years with famous historical figures like Buddha and King Tut practicing ear stretching. There were also tribes that used ear weights that were up to one pound in weight.
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