Plugs are nothing new- they’ve been fetishistically current for years now. Brought to mainstream piercing by a love of all things primitive and tribal, they are a throwback to the tribes of other other cultures. Also known as ear gauges, plugs come in so many different styles, and looks and have been adopted into the personal style of millions of people worldwide. Glamorous, jeweled designs, to punk logos, organic varieties including horn, wood, and bone, and as expected a wide range of different metals such as 14K gold, titanium, surgical steel, and sterling silver are commonly used to make gorgeous gauges.
Stretching the ears is an ancient practice. So ancient in fact, Otzi the Iceman, the oldest mummified person to date, discovered in an Italian glacier, displayed stretched ears! Considering he lived some 3300 years BC- making it more than 5000 + years to the current date- it seems ear stretching will never be out of fashion, and will always fascinate.
It has also been reported that Gautama Buddha also wore his ears in the stretch. Having been a wealthy prince, and the custom of the day was to wear as much gold as possible on your ears to show off this wealth, his lobes stretched to an exemplary degree. When he abandoned his fortune, and removed all the gold from his ears, the stretching remained as a symbol of his change in path. In this honor, all depictions of Buddha henceforth have been with stretched ears and no accompanying jewelry.
More modernly, ear gauges have been seen amongst tribes across the world. The Mursi people of Africa have been known to wear stretched earlobes, in addition to stretched lips. The hill tribe peoples in northern Thailand have also culturally worn stretched ears with plugs as well.
If you are on the path to stretching your ears, keep in mind that it is a process best done gradually. It should begin with a piercing that has healed entirely. Using tapers and stretchers is a safe, and very popular method of stretching. These devices work to allow this gradual increase in size, in a very safe and effective way. Tip your hat to the Iceman- start stretching your ears today!