History of earrings

Posted by Cristina Bet on


Earrings are an artistic element which involves a piece of jewelry, as well as a body modification, being one of the oldest known practices of this kind of modification. This form of accessorizing is differentiated according to the culture, the time period and the various artistic meanings behind it. There are multiple types of jewelry piercings that can be practiced on the external surface of the human body, however earrings are specifically referred to the jewelry that is attached through the piercing action of the ear. This also can be done on various external parts of the ear. The most common part on the ear to be pierced is the ear lobe, other locations could be the rook, the tragus, and across the helix.

As any other jewelry, the earrings design can be created from different materials, some examples are: metal, glass, or plastic, but also more unusual ones like bones and wood.

As previously said, even if it is not known when the first earrings where created, ear piercing is one of the oldest known body modifications. ‘’Gold, silver and bronze hoop earrings were prevalent in the Minoan civilization (2000–1600 BCE)’’. ‘’ Early evidence of earrings worn by men can be seen in archaeological evidence from Persepolis in ancient Persia. The carved images of soldiers of the Persian Empire, displayed on some of the surviving walls of the palace, show them wearing an earring.’’ (Wikipedia 2019, Earrings)

Evidence of earrings wearing was also recorded in the bible ‘’ In Exodus 32:1–4, it is written that while Moses was up on Mount Sinai, the Israelites demanded that Aaron make a god for them. It is written that he commanded them to bring their sons' and daughters' earrings (and other pieces of jewelry) to him in order that he might comply with their demand (c. 1500 BCE).’’ (Wikipedia 2019, Earrings)

‘’The ancients believed that sickness and evil spirits entered the body through its orifices. An individual could be protected if amulets were worn at these entryways, including the ears. Early doctors also believed that earrings—or the gemstones they contained—cured headaches and improved eyesight. Nevertheless, the primary goal was to adorn the body.’’ (A. Withey 2014, A brief history of earrings)

Later in the History, Earrings began to be fashionable accessories, during the English Renaissance.’’ In 1577 it became more and more common to were rings made from gold, stones or even pearls in the ears,

For many cultures wearing earrings was a part of their traditions and religion. Asia is one example were this tradition of wearing earrings was a part of their culture, countries like Nepal, Sri Lanka and Laos. The meaning of these customs was for male to not pierce their ears until adulthood.

In conclusion, the charm of embellishing our body with jewelry and body modification, can offer us the possibility of expressing different meanings. Earrings are frequently worn not only by women, but also by men. Looking at the history of earrings we can say that with the evolution this jewelry element will take many other forms, meanings and complexity.


 Wikipedia 2019, Earrings, viewed 17.02.2019


A. Withey 2014, A brief history of earrings, viewed 17.02.2019


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