Early Atypical Body Piercing References

A la the entry below, I came across a couple references to early “non-traditional” body piercing that I’d like to repost here. This first one, about a Madison piercing, is from Rack Rope And Red-Hot Pinchers: A History of Torture and Its Instruments by Geoffrey Abbott (Headline Book Publishing, 1993). It reads,

Chain through the Neck
In the more exotic parts of the world, more exotic punishments were administered. In China, monks who broke their sacred vows were punished by having a hole burned through their necks with a red-hot iron. A long chain was then passed through the hole and, stark naked, he would be led along the streets, any attempt to relieve the pain caused by the weight of the chain on the open wound being thwarted by the application of a whip carried by another monk bringing up the rear.

This also echoes the BME/News “dragon fish” feature on the more drastic but similar use of sub-clavical piercings.

Along those lines, Hieronymus Bosch’s Christ Carrying the Cross, painted in 1490, features a crowd scene that includes Moors (I think) wearing cheek and chin piercings.

This 16th century glazed ceramic plate of a face made of penises (bought by Ashmolean Museum in Oxford for about a half million dollars in 2003), created by Francisco Urbino in Italy, appears to have a Prince Albert type piercing in the “earlobe”. Whether that’s flight of fancy or something that’s representational of actual piercing subculture, I don’t know… That said, given the number of people I know that have pierced their genitals without any awareness of other people doing it, I assume it existed.

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About Shannon Larratt

Shannon Larratt is the founder of BME (1994) and its former editor and publisher. After a four year hiatus between 2008 and 2012, Shannon is back adding his commentary to ModBlog. It should be noted that any comments in these entries are the opinion of Shannon Larratt and may or may not be shared by BMEzine.com LLC or the other staff or members of BME. Entry text Copyright © Shannon Larratt. Reproduced under license by BMEzine.com LLC. Pictures may be copyright to their respective owners. You can also find Shannon at Zentastic or on Facebook.

24 thoughts on “Early Atypical Body Piercing References


    Dude, I’d pay a mint for a reproduction of that. What a conversation piece!

  2. P.S. Shannon, you should make a new banner for modblog / bme : “It’s always a penis.”

    Or maybe *I* should. Hmmmmm.

  3. The one with a PA is exactly that corresponding to the hear, it makes it difficult to figure out which one of the two piercings could that be a reference to.

  4. Shannon, any idea where the book is available? It seems difficult to find in any of the usual (amazon etc) places…

  5. Man, cockplate is a lot of cock.

    I’d assume that they did have genital piercings then… I mean, let’s face it, back then there were all kinds of genital modifications going on (mainly cultural) so I’d be amazed if there were no genital piercings at all.

    As far as how widespread… We simply can’t guess.

  6. I wonder who first said:
    “my what a lovely penis, i wonder what it would look like with a little bling?”

    then again i also wonder things like who first looked at a cow and said ‘imma drink whatever comes out of THAT’

  7. I love how when you put the mouse over the penis plate pictures it comes up saying “dickhead” :P

  8. I laughed way more than I should have done at the penis plate.
    Whoever gets that picture tattooed on them is all kinds of awesome. and when told its crude and awful they can say: “actually its 16th century artwork”!

  9. I trust that the book doesn’t make the same mistake… surely the title should be “Its Instruments”…

  10. the chain through the neck sounds like it would be a pretty permanent piercing in terms of longevity. There won’t be time for rejection because the monk would have died already!

  11. The plate says, Every man looks at me as tho i were a dickhead. i have seen it before. you can ggogle dickhead plate and read more on it.

  12. Very little has changed! China was evil then and it is evil now. Torture still goes on there in 2008 as it did in 1490.

    I believe New Zealand has just entered into a free trade agreement with China. Shame on New Zealand!!! It is an absolute disgrace!!

    Human nature will never change and will only do so when humans finally become extinct on the planet.

  13. the last pic reminds me of the movie superbad…when the kid has this thing about always drawing penises hah.

  14. wow! the only bosch painting i’ve ever studied is the garden of earthly delights and his style was way different – i wouldn’t have even picked that out as his in a million years. okay, that’s a lie. if i had a million years i’d probably guess bosch eventually.

    also, lana, i think the same thing all the time but mostly about licking frogs. i just can’t imagine who looked at a poisonous frog and said “you know, just a little taste won’t hurt.”

    that throat thing is like some sort of catastrophic tracheotomy!

  15. Pingback: ModBlog - 16th Century Play Piercing - Body modification and ritual blog sponsored by BMEzine.com

  16. Pingback: Arte corporal en la historia - Cuerpo y Arte

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