Website design By BotEap.comA study of the history of ear measurement indicates that the practice is as old as recorded human history. For men, this form of ear piercing has been a status symbol, while for women, in addition to being used as a means of body decoration, it has also been used to signify the achievement of femininity. Website design By BotEap.comEar gauging, which is also known as ear stretching, is the stretching of earlobe piercings to larger diameters than the original piercing. It is a form of body enhancement or beautification that many Western youths adopt to look ‘different’ from the usual crowd. However, this is not a modern form of body piercing, as it has been around for as long as archaeological records exist. Website design By BotEap.comIn many cases, historically, ear measurement has been used to indicate the position of members of a specific tribe, and in many respects this is still the case today. Stretched piercings have been, and continue to be, a reflection of the individual’s sexual ability and also of his superiority over other tribesmen. The greater the stretch, the more important the individual. Website design By BotEap.comOtzi the Iceman is a prime example of mummies known to have pricked ears. This is the earliest known example of ear measurement, Otzi had 7-11mm ear piercings during 3300 BC. It has been suggested that the stretching of the ears seen in depictions of Siddhartha Gautama, better known as the Buddha, may have been caused by the weight of the gold jewelry he wore, but this is merely a guess. Website design By BotEap.comHowever, it is supported by the fact that the Masai tribe of Kenya and the Lahu and Karen-Paduang peoples of Thailand use this “gravity” technique to stretch their piercings. Let’s take a look at the ear measurement practices used today by various cultures. Website design By BotEap.comA. Mursi Tribal Women Website design By BotEap.comThe Mursi are an Ethiopian tribe where women are required to wear ear tags and lower lip plates. About a year before her marriage, or around 15 years of age, her mother will pierce the lip of a Mursi girl and a wooden peg will be pushed through the incision. Website design By BotEap.comOnce healed, the pin is changed for a larger diameter one. Eventually, the peg is replaced by a clay or wooden plate, and this plate is successively exchanged for larger ones until the required diameter is reached, around 8–22 cm (3–9 in) in diameter. Once these plates have been secured, she receives a higher degree of respect than those without, and is known as ‘Bhansanai’. Website design By BotEap.comThese lip and ear plates do not need to be worn permanently, but are an expected adornment on special occasions such as weddings and other celebrations, and when serving food to men. Today, young women can usually make up their own minds about whether or not to follow this tradition. Website design By BotEap.comB. The Masai People of Kenya Website design By BotEap.comThe practice of measuring the ears has been common among Masai men and women for thousands of years. However, in recent years, most young men have not followed this custom, although many Maasai women can still be found wearing ear ornaments made of stones, cross-cut elephant tusks, wood, and animal bones. Website design By BotEap.comThe original piercing is done with a thorn, sharp twig, or sharp knife point. Once healed, the ears are notched by using increasingly heavier jewelry that pulls the lobe downwards and stretches the piercing. This is the traditional way of measuring ears in more primitive cultures, although today many Maasai use proper ear-measuring techniques, such as their own versions of tapered insert or tapered tips. Beading is a common form of ornamentation, although bone, tusk, and wood plugs are also used. Website design By BotEap.comC. The African Fulani tribe Website design By BotEap.comFulani women of Nigeria and Central Africa tend to wear smaller diameter earmuffs and decorate them with large gold domes or hoops wearing earrings. A Fulani child will have their ears pierced around the age of 3, although they may not have them stretched until they are older. The gauges worn by Fulani women are relatively small compared to the Maasai and Mursi, although jewelry can be larger. Website design By BotEap.comD. Asian hill tribes Website design By BotEap.comOf the various hill tribes, the only two known to practice ear measurement are the Lahu of Thailand and the Karen-Padaung (long neck) of Myanmar (Burma) and also Phrae Province in Thailand. The latter tribe is best known for their neck rings, which give the appearance of long necks, but both cultures believe that the ear is sacred and the more jewelry they can wear, the better. By measuring their ears, they can wear as much jewelry as they think possible. Website design By BotEap.comE. Mexican and Central American civilizations Website design By BotEap.comIn Mayan and Aztec society, measuring one’s ears was considered desirable for men. There are many Maya depictions of men wearing flares and ear plugs (ear coils) in calibrated ears, and the material used was indicative of the social position of the wearer. The upper classes used jade earplugs, while the rest used bone, stone, wood, and other materials. In central Mexico, the craftsmanship of the Aztecs is evident in ear plugs and gold and silver ornaments, although the lower classes adorned their earlobes with shells, copper, and wood, among many other imaginative materials. Website design By BotEap.comEar measurement has been carried out throughout the world, and among other notable areas involved in this practice is Japan, where the Ainu wore ear jewelry made of shell, bone, and a ball and ring known as a Ninkari. There are many other cultures around the world where ear plugging was a part of life, and even today many people consider ear pricking a fashion statement and a way to express their own personality and individuality.