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.