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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Stretching Earlobes from Africa to America

The tradition of elongating earlobes has stretched from Africa to America.

The tradition of elongating earlobes has stretched from Africa to AmericaEar piercing and the stretching of earlobes are the first stage of initiation towards adulthood in traditional African Maasai (Masai if you live in Tanzania) culture. Piercing and stretching earlobes are considered beautiful to most Maasai. Women and men are initiated during the Eudoto-oo-inkiyiaa cartilage and Enkigerunoto-oo-inkiyiaa earlobe stretching ceremonies. 

In 2013, Kenya began a campaign toward the Maasai of educating the tribe on the negative connotations of ear stretching and upper cartilage piercing. Some Kenyan officials believe tribalism is hurting Kenya and the more mainstream an individual is the more likely they can absorb into conventional society.

Traditional Maasai culture. Maasai ears are a work of art. photo by c3lsiusbb
Maasai ears are a work of art
While Kenya began a campaign of cultural everydayness with the Maasai, flesh tunnels and flesh plugs, have become more visible on the streets of European mainstream society. Ear stretching and ear cartilage piercing with 1,2,3,4, 5 and up piercings is common. Ear piercing kits, expanders, stretchers and even tips on perfectly stretching your ears are sold online; ear art heritage has literally stretched from Africa to America. 

Everyone practices the art of ear stretching and piercing for many different reasons, beauty has always been in the eye of the beholder. Hopefully, traditional culture and customs of the Maasai are not limited to working in African tourism where they display their culture to visiting tourists. Maasai traditions have undergone some changes in the past few decades; their strong social traditions remain intact.

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