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-Please follow the CDC guidelines if you are exposed to or have symptoms of COVID-19.

Thank you. We look forward to seeing you at your appointment with Adorn!

Nostril Piercing: Past to Present

June 3, 2014 5:35 pm Published by

The nostril piercing has a long and surprising history. It dates back 4,000 to 5,000 years ago when it was first recorded in the Middle East. In fact, it was brought up in the Bible which is said to be written around the same time. It (piercing the nostril) is mentioned in The Bible in Genesis 24:22 Abraham requested his oldest servant to find a wife for his son Isaac, the servant found Rebekah, and one of the gifts he gave her was a “golden earring” the original Hebrew word used was Shanf, which also translates as “nose-ring” (Morrison).

It was brought to India in the 16th century by the Moghul emperors. The Moghul Emporers most likely spread piercing the nostril from the Middle East deeper into Asia in the 16th century as well. Ever since, piercing the nostrils has become popular with Indian girls and women. In some instances, the ring in the nostril is linked, by chain, to a jewel in the ear or jewels in the hair. It is also said that women in India pierce the acupuncture point on the nostril to induce submissiveness.

In Northern India, the outside of the left and in Southern India the outside of the right nostril is the preferred position of the piercing as this is supposed to make childbirth easier. This is because Ayurvedic medicine associates this location with the female reproductive organs (Nose Piercing). Sometimes the women of India today pierce both nostrils (DeMello, 2007). Though the left side is most likely to be seen. Having the nostril pierced is also said to make the pain associated with moon time (menstruation) easier to cope with. It is also associated with beauty and social standing. Piercing the nostril honors Parvati, the Hindu Mother Goddess and the embodiment of the total energy in the universe.

Nostril piercing is still followed today by the nomadic Berber and Beja tribes of Africa and also by the Bedouin in the Middle East. The size of the ring is indicative of the wealth and stature of the family. The husband gives the ring to his wife at the time of marriage; this is her security if divorce follows.

Large-gauge nostril piercings are seen in the women of the Apa Tani tribe in the Apatani plateau Jiro in India. The Apa Tani are of Tibetan origin. The dress of the Apatanis is elaborate and colorful, yet simple in style. Tattooing and the stuffing of large nose plugs were once popular among women, although this practice has gradually fallen into decline in recent years. Originally, this practice started because the women wanted to look unattractive to males from neighboring tribes. Apa Tani women were considered to be the most beautiful among all the Arunachal tribes (Encyclopedia > Apa Tani).

By the late 19th century, the Victorian era had made its indelible mark upon society and women’s fashion. Ethel Granger, who was born in 1892, epitomized this look. Except for the native American population of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, women were not pierced (Perlingieri, 2003). Ethel had double nostril piercings as well as many other piercings!

The nostril piercing was brought to the States, in large part, in the 1960s by hippies coming back from India in search of spiritual enlightenment. From the hippies that came back to the States the punk rock scene picked it up in the late 1970s as a form of rebellion against the dominant culture and conservative values.

It is said that the nostril piercing “made a comeback” in the 90s though I believe it never fell out of the goth/punk subculture. Nostril piercing became more mainstream due to celebrities having the piercing. Janet Jackson and 
Dennis Rodman popularized the nostril piercing which made more people in the US fond of the piercing. Music videos in the 80s and 90s were very popular and with celebrities having the piercing it exploded into our mainstream culture.

Today nostril piercings are worn by all genders, and all sexes and are not largely defined by class. Nostril piercing is popular in the U.S., UK, Canada, the Caribbean, Australia, and Europe with piercings being performed on either the left or right nostril (Nose Piercing). Next to the earlobe piercing, it is the most popular form of piercing today (DeMello, 2007). Nostril piercings are often seen on both sides of the nose and sometimes more than one piercing per nostril. Large nostril piercings have been picked up by the body modification subculture as well.

The nostril piercing, by today’s standards, is very much a classic. Its popularity is obvious in our culture among celebrities, music singers, and the business executive.


DeMello, M. (2007). Encyclopedia of Body Adornment. Greenwood Press.

Encyclopedia > Apa Tani. (n.d.). Retrieved october 25, 2008, from Nationmaster: http://www.nationmaster.com/encyclopedia/Apa-Tani

Kuchinsky, C. (n.d.). A history of Piercing. Retrieved october 25, 2008, from the Beauty Biz: http://www.thebeautybiz.com/68/article/history/history-face-body-piercing

Morrison, C. (n.d.). Body Piercing History. Retrieved october 25, 2008, from Painful Pleasures: http://www.painfulpleasures.com/piercing_history.htm

Nose Piercing. (n.d.). Retrieved october 25, 2008, from wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nose_piercing

Perlingieri, B. A. (2003). A Brief History of the Evolution of Body Adornment in Western Culture: Ancient Origins and Today. Eugene, OR, USA: Tribalife Publications.

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Dani P.
Dani P.
Really great place. Awesome selection and professional staff. I've had a tattoo and nose piercing and I'd go back again for a new service.
Tammy K.
Tammy K.
I first came to Adorn to get my piercing I received at Slave to the Needle (in Seattle) checked, it was a Daith. I was developing a small pyogenic granuloma and Lia checked it out, suggested I use saline to clean it twice a day and even took pictures of it to determine progress if it gets worse later. I was told by Lia and my dermatologist that it might not go away, as some don't. But It cleared it RIGHT up!Then I went back because I took out all my piercings because I had to get an MRI. Lia was my piercer again and got it back in within minutes. It was a newer piercing so I was worried it had closed... and to my surprise it did a little but Lia was able get it right back in. It was tricky but she was patient and calming the whole time.I plan to get 2 more piercings and I'd love for Lia to do them. She was gentle and so knowledgeable. I'm also going to bring my daughter to get her ears pierced when she's a little older, and I pray pray pray Lia will still be here when my daughter is ready to get her ears pierced. I don't think I'd want anyone else touching my little girls ears besides anyone at Adorn!! Id especially love for Lia to do it but I haven't had the pleasure to meet any other piercer (might be fate though.. when I made the appointment I just made it for available piercer and both times I got Lia).Oh and the jewelry here is AUHMAZZZING I want them all!!!Fair prices and amazing selection.Definitely coming back soon!!!
Megan P.
Megan P.
Had a lovely experience at my appointment and leading up to my appointment. Everyone was very nice and the place was very clean. Only bummer was they didn't have the jewelry I wanted in gold. Will be going back though for sure.
Reva P.
Reva P.
Stop what you're doing and make an appointment to get something pierced with Dana. He is amazing and a total expert in his craft! Plus his patience is close to sainthood. I was so anxious when I got there and he was able to put me at ease and answer all of my dumb questions. Plus he is so personable that you feel very comfortable which is a necessity when someone is putting a hole in your body. I cannot recommend this place enough!
Ruby H.
Ruby H.
I had my septum re-pierced and philtrum pierced recently here. 2+ piercings in 1 session gets you a discount, which is awesome! The team at Adorn is APP certified- meaning they are extensively trained in safe piercings from clean stations to clean jewelry practices- they are experts at what they do. They have jewelry options for different price points- lots of stainless steel, inexpensive and beautiful jewelry options as well as a wide variety of gold, white gold, and gemstone jewelry on the pricier end. I love that they offer more luxurious and high-end jewelry here. My piercer was Dana, he made the experience very relaxing and I felt super comfortable. They answered all of my questions, and their team deeply cares about the people who come into their shop. Im so happy with my new piercings, I highly recommend Dana and Adorn Body Art.
Gabby L.
Gabby L.
I got my lip pierced here today by Zandr and he was very nice and made me feel very comfortable also he was very fast which I really appreciated because I was nervous and prefer to get it done and over with as quick as possible which he did! Everyone was also very nice and the place was very clean and professional.
jennifer b.
jennifer b.
I took my daughter (8 years) to get her ears pierced. Dana was so calm, informative, and kind. He made the experience easy. My daughter is thrilled. Everyone working there were extremely nice. I would highly recommend Adorn!