The History and Culture of Stretched Ears

People have been decorating and making changes to the appearance of their bodies since recorded history began. This has taken many forms through the ages, such as tattooing, piercing, stretching, scarring, branding, muscle sculpture, hair styling and many more, and for almost as many different reasons.

The three major purposes of these forms of body modification have historically been tribal (to display allegiance to one tribe or group of people), in war (to scare the enemy and distinguish friend from foe), and for fashion and perceived beauty. Ear stretching has been popular for centuries, but this popularity has increased in Western culture in recent years.

For some, there is a profound spirituality in the protracted process of stretching ears, while for others it is fun and more involved than simple ear piercing, and the fact that fewer people do it adds to its appeal. Others have their own reasons, but irrespective of these, stretched ears have always been part of human history and will continue to be so.

Reasons For Stretching Ears

Just as with other forms of body modification or enhancement, people have historically stretched their ears for a number of reasons. For some cultures, this represented a coming of age, while for others it was carried out to enhance beauty or sexuality. Throughout the ages it has been used both for religious reasons and to protect the subject from witchcraft or evil. Ear stretching is still carried out all over the world for a variety of reasons, including those mentioned above.

If you travel to Africa, you will find that stretched ears are common among many indigenous peoples, including the Maasia in east Africa, the Mursi in Ethiopia, and it is also carried out in some Asian countries such as Thailand. In South America, stretched ears are common amongst the Huaorami of the Amazon Basin, but you generally need go no further than your own hometown to see some excellent examples of ear stretching. Stretched piercings and flesh tunnels are now a common form of ear adornment for Western youth.

Icemen and Pharaohs

One of the more famous examples from history is Ötzi the Iceman, a 5,300 year-old mummified body found in the Alps between Austria and Italy. In addition to several tattoos, Ötzi had an ear stretched to around 7 mm – 11 mm diameter. The giant Easter Island statues display stretched ear lobes, the likely reason for them being known as ‘Long Ears’. The story goes that the statues were carved in honour of the original inhabitants of the island representing them with the earlobe stretchings that were part of their culture. When a different tribe arrived on the island, they were known as ‘Short Ears’, and were forced into slavery by the Long Ears. Eventually there were more Short Ears than Long Ears, and the latter were overthrown and the statues toppled over.

In Egypt, the boy king Tutankhamen is represented as having stretched ears, and his famous golden death mask features holes that can take 10 mm diameter bars. The processes used to stretch these famous sets of ears are not known, because there are many techniques that can be used. It is likely that primitive stretchings were carried out using wooden plugs or bamboo, and although a few people like to return to these early methods, they are not recommended today for health reasons.

Stretching Ears is Not Reversible

If you are interested in stretched ears, there are certain factors of which you should be aware. The first is that it is generally permanent. Once stretched, your ears stay that way. The holes do not heal over like a normal ear piercing, so make sure that you are happy with having stretched ears for the rest of your life. There is time at the beginning to stop and allow your ears to heal back to normal, but once the diameter reached 10-12 mm, it is too late and the hole will not close up. Another is that it takes time and patience. You do not visit a piercer and come out after an hour or two with stretched ears!

If you have decided that you want it done, you are advised to have the procedure carried out professionally. Yes, you can go it alone, but a professional will provide you with the best results, and it will also be safer. It will be quicker if your ears are already pierced, because otherwise you will need that done first and then wait up to 8 weeks for it to heal. Then you can start of the stretching, or gauging as it is often referred to.

That is because the diameter of the needles used is referred to as their ‘gauge’. The gauge of a needle drops as the diameter increases, so that an 18-gauge needle is small – in fact, that’s the gauge of an average initial piercing. Once you reach a 2 gauge, the diameter is that of a pencil and so on down. An 11 mm hole is 000-gauge (actually 11.11 mm or 7/16 inch).

Ear Stretching Should Not Be Rushed

As already explained, ear stretching is a slow process, and you should never try to rush it. If you try to rush, it will likely take longer eventually because unless the ear has time to get used to each lower gauge it won’t heal properly. You might then have to start all over again. Gauged ears should not bleed and there is distinct procedure to follow. Fundamentally, you increase the diameter of the piercing in small steps, allowing healing between each step. A common way to achieve this is to use an insertion taper, where one end of the taper is the same diameter as your existing hole, and the other side is of larger diameter.

This can be in the form of a stud that you wear until you are ready for the next size up. The next stud will have one end at the current diameter and the other at the lower gauge (larger diameter). That is pushed through and secured, and you wear that until the next insertion, and so on. If you keep your ears and jewellery clean and sterilized between sessions using anti-bacterial soap or saline solution then you should heal fine between each session – allow about two weeks between sessions.

Take the Advice of the Pros

It is very important to follow the advice of the professionals, and do not try to cut corners. Many people have ruined their ears by failing to be patient, so don’t let that be you. Follow cleaning instructions to the letter, both during and after the entire stretching process. There are many different types of ear jewellery available for stretched ears, including flesh tunnels, bars and rings.

There is also a wide choice of materials, from wood or plastic to gold and platinum. Many prefer glass while others find Teflon best, particularly if they suffer allergies. Niobium, surgical stainless steel and titanium are also popular materials for stretched ear jewellery.

Keep in mind that not all can be worn indefinitely, particularly the porous materials such as wood, shell and some plastics that can harbour bacteria, yeasts and fungi. Such jewellery should be regularly removed and thoroughly cleaned and sterilized. Ear stretching sets you apart from the usual crowd, and can be a very distinctive form of ornamentation. It is something that few people regret having done.

Pop Art – A Quick Guide to the Basics

Some of the most well-known artists of the Pop Art phenomenon, such as Roy Lichtenstein and Robert Rauschenberg, were born in the 1920′s which was a boom time in the USA with money to spare and jazz music starting to make it’s mark. But in 1929 the stock market crashed and the US entered a depression that lasted until the mid-1930′s. Perhaps the most famous of all pop artists, Andy Warhol, was born at the beginning of that depression.

So these artists grew up in a fast changing world that went from boom to bust to World War II in little over 10 years. By the time the war ended, they were still young and during the 1950s people again started to have some extra money available to spend on the endless stream of new products that were starting to appear.

And it was the design and advertising of these new products that the artists were commenting on, and influenced by, in a way that no previous generation of artists had been. They tried to use ordinary consumer items in their work to encourage people to view them differently. They also positioned common items in unusual ways to make people take notice of them.

Other common themes in Pop Art were comic books and the famous people of that era such as Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe, who will be forever associated with Warhol’s work. Warhol used screen printing techniques for his work and usually made several copies of the same image.

But what the artists sought to highlight was the way famous people were treated as objects in the same way as products were in advertising with all sense of their individuality removed. Although many pop artists were unwilling to give meaning to their work, and even those who posed questions with their art, left those same questions unanswered. Jasper Johns, famous for his series of paintings showing the American flag, famously questioned whether his own work was art or just a flag.

So what are the characteristics of Pop Art?

Just as the world in which we live is endlessly varied, so Pop Art used a variety of techniques but the common characteristics that define works as Pop Art are as follows:

Graphic Style: Clearly defined shapes and colours with hard edges such as the Lichtenstein comic book styles and David Hockney’s works.

Funny and Lighthearted: Rejecting the rather serious approach of earlier artists.

Everyday Products and Brands: including foodstuffs, cars and images from advertising and films.

Collage: and also different techniques within one work.

No Perspective: Flat two-dimensional works are very common.

Mechanical Techniques: silk-screen printing was used to create different versions of the same image.

Where Can We Find Art In Our Day-To-Day Lives?

After the controversial appearance of Marcel Duchamp’s “Fountain” in 1917, the world began to understand that art is not only to be found in a painting or sculpture, but rather can be made from anything around us. Later the enormous success of Pop art developed this theme. In other words, artists showed us that art is everywhere and we just need to train our eyes to see it and discover the potential in our world.

It is some time since art was exclusively the province of galleries and museums. While these remain main centers for art-lovers, the growth of street art, performance art, land art and many other innovative kinds of art have meant that it really can be something we see as we walk down the street, a part of our ordinary lives.

The world continues to change, and we become more demanding in our desire to bring some form of art to normal life. Furniture is carved or molded in unusual and creative ways, light fixtures can become works of art, while we expect a print if not an original work on many of the free walls we see on a regular basis, from our own homes to our offices to the doctor’s surgery.

Art rules our minds, it surrounds us on all sides. Going to work you can listen to a favorite piece of music through your earpieces, you can be inspired by a billboard or a piece of public art, or even recent graffiti. At lunch you may visit a gallery with a friend, or watch an art house film in the evening. One single day can include exposure to – and, if you are aware of it, appreciation of – so many different kinds of art.

Leonardo da Vinci said that there are three types of people: those who see, those who see when they are shown, those who do not see. Contemporary art tries to attract the attention of all these kinds of people, even the last type. Modern art is sometimes bright and flashy, but at the same time it is unexpected, it appears in displays we would never have thought about before.

Art is a way of finding beauty in the world, and adding a sense of joy to our lives. However it can also act as a way of dealing with the problems of existence that have bothered humanity for millennia. In a more abstract sense, it can influence the way you live and make your life itself a recognized thing of value. Somerset Maugham believed that life is an art, that every person creates a work of art just by living.

This is a powerful thing – in letting art become a part of our life and allowing it to form our lives, we can live in a world where everything can be art, or the inspiration for art, and where everyone can in some sense be an artist.

Impact of Technology On The Field of Arts And Entertainment

Nearly everyone enjoys the different types of entertainment, and some people enjoy even more being entertainers. They want to become actors, comedians, dancers, singers. We used to go inside theatres after a hard day’s work to relax and see our favorite plays. But only in the last hundred years have we been able to record sound and pictures and to broadcast them through air. These improvements have brought fun and entertainment to every corner of the world and into most of our homes.

Technology has indeed made it possible for us to see entertainment in a new light. For one, technology has made it also possible for us to store our memories. Actors and singers long dead seem to come to life again every time their films or records are played. We can store a seemingly countless number of these records and films in CDs, hard drives and other storing devices like our computer. This makes it possible for us to entertain ourselves almost anywhere- at home, at the office, at the park, the bus; as long as we bring our devices with us. One can actually live without TV these days as long as one has a computer device and internet connection.

The world of entertainment has grown tremendously, and it can teach us as well as entertain us. Today, broadcasting is the most important form of popular entertainment. But now it is challenged by still newer inventions. Video playback and recording equipments make it possible for home viewers to buy or record their favorite shows. Many classic movies are already available for home viewing. This new equipment may encourage many viewers to spend fewer hours watching network offerings of situation comedies and action dramas. And now, we can record, transfer, and produce our own videos using cellular phones.

At the same time, the internet has revolutionized viewing habits in another way. The internet provides information on a lot of sources for movies, music, and other forms of entertainment. With internet connection, people can bring programs directly into their computer by doing downloads and many of these downloads are offered for free. Not only does it provide entertainment but we can even do some transactions like when you want to buy stun guns online.

The internet offer entertainment on almost all particular interests- music, news, and special information such as stock markets, weather, and social networking. These sources are made available to us faster than ever, as fast as the stun gun effects.  We can update on news even before they get broadcasted on TV through the different websites on the internet.

Never in recorded history have Entertainment and arts been so important in the lives of so many people. Modern inventions such as the internet have put nearly every person within reach of music and drama all day, every day, at home, and away from home. The internet has also made it possible for people not just become viewers but also the performers themselves as they are able to upload their own videos on different sites. The future of entertainment and arts is taking shape through technology and the people themselves.