Tongue Piercing in History and Culture

According to ancient texts and historical records, the Mayans and the Aztecs both implemented the use of ritual tongue piercing as part of their cultures. The Mesoamericans practiced such rituals as a way of paying tribute to their deities as well as offerings. Other cultures in the far East would pierce a person’s tongue to prove they had reached a state of trance during certain ritualistic practices and spiritual situations.

Modern Day Piercings and Rituals

In today’s contemporary society there has been a recent upsurge and growth in popularity of piercing in various parts of the body. Tongue piercing involves a surgical steel barbell inserted through the piercing in the tongue. The initial piercing is created by way of a large ‘needle’ which is pushed through the flesh of the tongue and out the top. The barbell is then pushed through and screwed closed using the ball on the end of the barbell.

Tongue piercing jewelry consists of a variety of styles, but the most popular is the surgical steel barbell. Other people prefer colored inserts and gems or precious stones. However, they come with their own warnings of the dangers of small parts coming loose and getting stuck in the throat. It is very important that the tongue jewelry is well-fitting because of the constant movement of the tongue. Your piercing should not hamper your ability to eat or your ability to speak clearly.

Care of the Tongue During and After Piercing

When you go to the piercing artist to have your tongue pierced you should always check the cleanliness of the facility and make sure they have a recent inspection certificate if applicable. A professional and knowledgeable artist, who will explain the entire procedure beforehand, should guide you through the process. Generally, you will be seated in a comfortable seat and the artist will inspect the underside of your tongue to check for any large blood vessels. Because of the nature of the tongue it is easy to misjudge a piercing and do harm to some of the many nerves and taste buds, so the utmost care is required. The artist will hold the tongue in a clamp and swab it before piercing through with a large needle-like implement. The tongue will swell within a few days but recede shortly after.