What Is the Meaning of Nose Rings?

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Nose rings exist in many different cultures and have for thousands of years. In some places, nose rings are a symbol of wealth and a prestigious sign. In other places, however, like the modern day U.S., nose rings are seen as a symbol of rebellion and frowned upon by many conservative people. Many people equate them with negative movements, but the nose ring has a rich history and is widely misunderstood.

1 A Symbol of Marriage

Four thousand years ago, nose rings were first recorded in the Middle East as a wedding gift. These were often made of gold and quite ornate, and represented a woman's married status in the world. This practice spread to several parts of Africa, and was considered to be a woman's insurance should she be divorced.

2 A Symbol of Wealth

In several tribes, such as the Berber tribe of Africa, nose rings represent wealth. The larger the ring, the wealthier and more prominent was its wearer. This was often interwoven with the marriage ritual, in which the groom presented his wife this ring as a token of his wealth. The practice is still carried on today.

3 A Symbol of Beauty

In Asia, many women like to get their noses pierced a month or so before their wedding. Nose rings are considered fashionable and accepted as a beautiful accessory, one that elevates the wearer's beauty to make them more desirable.

4 Nose Rings in India

In India, a common belief is that a woman should have her left nostril pierced. According to Ayuvedra, Indian Medicine, the left nostril is the spot associated with child bearing. Wearing a nose ring here eases the pain and makes child birth more manageable.

5 Modern Symbolism

America saw the rise of nose rings first in the 1960s when hippies visited India and brought them back. Their popularity waned, and in the 1970s returned as the punk movement adopted them as a symbol of rebellion against conservative values. This stigma remains today, and nose rings are negatively viewed by conservatives, employers and some teachers. Their popularity, however, is once again on the rise as more celebrities choose to pierce their noses.

Chelsea Rose began writing professionally in 2009. She has written veterinarian articles for VetInfo.com and private clients. Currently a full-time student, she is finishing an associate degree in preparation to major in international studies and receive a minor in Mandarin Chinese through Portland State University.