Septum Piercing: Tribal to Trendy

a short history of nasal septum piercings

Modern septum piercing in western culture has become a normality, thanks in part to the fashion tastes of several celebrities, but the septum piercing’s been around for a much longer time than many may realize.

Several ancient civilizations, including the Aztecs, pierced the nasal septum as a rite of passage, to denote social status, or to create a more menacing look to their warriors. In parts of rural India and Nepal, a number of different ethnic groups referred to as hill tribes have been piercing the septum for generations, sometimes also piercing both nostrils. For many, the type of jewelry worn in the septum is specific to their particular social culture.

The term “septum piercing” is to some degree a misnomer, as modern piercings don’t really penetrate the nasal septum at all. They actually puncture the tissue just below the septum’s edge between the openings of the nostrils, known as “the sweet spot.” Although some tribal cultures are believed to have bored through portions of the septum itself, in most cases the piercing was performed in much the same area as it is today. Stretching was, and still is, common as well, particularly amongst the tribal groups of Papua, New Guinea.

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In the modern era, septum piercing saw an exponential rise in prevalence beginning around 2008, when a slew of popular female celebrities began rocking a miniaturized, more feminized version of the look. Scarlett Johansson, Hayley Williams, and Kelis, just to name a few, have all taken the plunge over the past few years. As for the future, it seems this sweet little piercing is only continuing to expand its network of devotees, but as always only time will tell.