SERIES Why do we wear earrings? (2/4)

Sometimes a fashion accessory, sometimes a cultural or religious rite, the earring has transcended the centuries to establish itself as an essential fashion accessory. The reasons may vary from one continent to another, from one ethnic group to another. Let's decipher together some of the meanings of wearing this jewel.

Social status

Beginning first with one of the best known representations of this usage: the Buddha. Indeed, Buddha statues all have distended earlobes. And I always wondered why! Legend has it that Buddha being of princely rank, his class required him to appear with very heavy earrings. When the latter decides to give up his prosperous life to live as an ascetic, he removes his jewelry but his pierced and deformed ears recall his noble origins. The stigmata left by the earrings symbolizing wealth and affirming a certain social status.

Photo credit: Constant Loubier on Unsplashed

In Africa, jewelry still responds to social codes today. Their size and value are indicators of wealth. We often attach great importance to these jewels which often accompany traditional outfits which, in contrast, remain simple. Among the Maasai of Kenya, the size of the stretch varies with age. In adults, the height is larger than in young people, stretching being a mark of respect. It is the same in the Dayak tribe. As much as the person has widely spread lobes, so much he is revered.

Photo credit: Magdalena Kula Manchee on Unsplashed

If stretching the ear is a traditional practice among these ethnic groups, it is clear that today this form of piercing is more and more popular in Western societies. Deep down, some of us feel the need to draw attention to what we represent. Including, the right to be different!

Continue reading with Part 3 of the series:

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