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History & Civilizations


75 min visit

Musée de l'Homme
13 Mar → 9 Mar 2020
From Wednesday to Monday from 11 am to 7 pm. Closed on Tuesday.

« An exciting exhibition to discover piercing traditions and practices from around the world!  »

Do you know the story of "piercing"? Do you know how long piercing has been practiced on the planet? Well, you may be surprised to know that this goes back to prehistoric times and that traces of it can be found on all continents. With this new exhibition at the Musée de l'Homme, we discover that piercing is very old and would have been practiced for several tens of thousands of years by Homo sapiens. Designating both the body brand and the ornament, this type of ornament has been found on all continents for thousands of years, anchored in the most ancient civilizations. Far from being a 20th century fashion phenomenon, the exhibition shows that this practice dates back to the dawn of time. Signs of belonging to a group, rites of passage, signs of prestige or marks of infamy, signs of submission, beauty and strength, piercings have meanings that are still relevant today. For Franz Manni, lecturer at the Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle and scientific curator of the exhibition, this temporal and geographical recurrence suggests that piercing has probably accompanied human migrations and that it is a relevant marker for tracing certain cultural exchanges since prehistoric times. Thus after having disappeared for centuries in Europe (except for the earring, which remained well anchored in European customs), piercings returned with great pomp and circumstance in the 20th century. And it seems that it was since California's "peace and love" of the 1970s that it started again. Between tradition and modernity, between history and contemporaneity, piercing shows a longevity just as persistent and permanent as tattooing.


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