Body modification has found its way into mainstream society in the last several years; nonetheless, it’s not a new practice. The Huaorani people of the Amazon have been documented as having stretched earlobes which is a strong indicator of body altering.
The Massai people of Kenya and Tanzania also enlarge their earlobes for cultural purposes. The inhabitants of the Mursi tribe in Ethiopia specialize in lip plating. This week, we will focus on earlobe stretching within the Kenyan and Tanzanian regions and lip enlarging in Ethiopia. Continue reading to learn more about ear gauging and lip plugging.
The Maasai people are a Nilotic people; they inhabit the area surrounding the Nile valley. Their origins can be traced back to the north of Lake Turkana, Northwest Kenya. They settled in this region in the 17th through to the late 18th century. The Maasai are known for being warriors and cattle-rustlers. The culture is deeply patriarchal; men, especially the elders are responsible for farming and enforcing ways of living.
Earlobe stretching is a common practice. The unique look is achieved with the use of twigs, thorns, stones, portions of elephant tusks, and empty film containers. The earlobe is further enlarged when heavier objects are placed in the lobe. The Maasai women are known to adorn beaded ornaments in the lobe and smaller earrings in the top areas of the ear.
The people of the Mursi or Mun Tribe in Ethiopia are also Nilotic people. They reside in the Southern Nations and People’s Region which is in close vicinity to Sudan. Surrounded by mountains, the tribe is excluded from outer influences.
Lip plates; round disks of wood or clay worn on the bottom lip are considered a cultural rite of passage. Because of its unique look, lip disks attract tourists which is a source of income for the Mursi people. Lip disks are typically worn by unmarried women; at the age of 15 their lips are pierced and then the wooden peg is placed within the piercing to initiate the enlargement process.
The way of life for some may be a source of fashion or style for others. Cultural practices have a way of making their mark in places far and wide. These practices have hit the fashion scene in Europe and America with many tattoo and piercing parlours offering ear gauging and lip plate fixing services.
You can also gauge your ears on your own through these seven processes.
- Get your ears pierced at a trustworthy location
- Wait 6-10 weeks after piercing your ears to gauge them.
- Begin stretching your ear with a size 16-20 gauge.
- Purchase a set of ear tapers at a piercing studio.
- Massage an oil lubricant around your piercing.
- Push your taper through your piercing.
- Replace the taper with your gauge.
It takes surgery to reverse the process.
Interested in having a lip plate? See the video below of how it is done traditionally: