SEPTUM PIERCING AFTERCARE
The piercing of the septum is probably the second most common piercing among primitive
peoples after ear piercing, it's even more common than nostril piercing. It's
probably so popular for the same reasons as nose piercing, with the added attraction
that the piercing can be stretched and large pieces of jewelry can be inserted,
i.e. pig's tusks, pieces of bone, feathers, pieces of wood, etc.
The septum piercing is particularly prevalent among warrior cultures, this
probably has to do with the fact that large tusks through the septum give the
face a fierce appearance. The use of septum tusks is very prevalent in Irian
Jaya, New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, pig's tusks being the most popular.
Among the Asmat tribe of Irian Jaya the most prestigious septum tusk is the
"Otsj" this is a large bone plug, which can be as thick as 25mm. They are usually
made of the leg bones of a pig, but occasionally they are made from the Tibia
bone of an enemy slain in battle.
The Septum piercing was beloved by the Aztecs, the Mayans, and the Incas. They
wore a variety of jewelry, but jade and gold were the most popular because of
their religious associations. The modern day Cuna Indians of Panama continue
this practice by wearing thick pure gold rings in their septum.
The piercing is also popular in India, Nepal, and Tibet, a pendant "Bulak"
is worn, and some examples are so large as to prevent the person being able
to eat, the jewelry has to be lifted up during meals. In Rajasthan in Himachal
Pradesh these Bulak are particularly elaborate, and extremely large.
Septum piercing was widely practised by many North American Indian tribes,
the name of the Nez Perc‚ tribe of Washington state, stem from their practice
of piercing the septum, Nez Perc‚ is French for Nose Pierced, and was given
to the tribe by the French fur traders. Australian aboriginals pierced the septum
and passed a long stick or bone through the piercing to flatten the nose, they
believed a flat nose to be the most desirable.
Among the Bundi tribe of the Bismarck Ranges of Papua New Guinea the
piercing is performed using the thin end of the Sweet Potato plant (Ogai
Iriva), usually at age 18-22. The age at which the piercing is done varies
greatly between different tribes, some tribes perform the rite at age 9-10.
"You were lost in the bush and now you have come back. You have come back
mature; you are men. When you return to your hamlet many girls will come after
you. But if you have lived well, and if they come after you, all the well. You
will now have your noses pierced to allow you to sing with girls and lead a
life like that of your elders. Your (Kangi Poroi) caused you to go to all this
trouble, now it will be over."
Source: Address by tribal elder to young men undergoing the (Kangi Poroi)
manhood ritual. Source: Field notes of David G. Fitzpatrick 1977 in "Bundi,
the culture of Papua New Guinea people" Ryebuck Publications, Nerang
Queensland Australia 1983
PLACEMENTThe Septum piercing is done through the small ridge of skin
just underneath the middle of the nose between the Alar cartilage (outer) and
the Quadrangular cartilage (separating the nostrils). There is usually a small
depression in this area towards the front of the nose, this is the best place
for the piercing.
The initial piercing is usually performed with either a ball closure ring or a
septum keeper. A septum keeper is shaped like a small horseshoe and can be hidden
by pushing the neds up into the nose, it's ideal if you have a job where they
don't approve of facial piercing's. Another option is a circular barbell, a ring
with two balls on the ends; this can also be flipped up inside the nose although
it's not as comfortable as a septum keeper.
Once the piercing is healed the hole can be stretched easily and a variety
of different jewelry can be worn, tusks, spikes, curled tusks, ball closure
rings, curved barbells and circular barbells.
Septum piercing's usually heal within 6-10 weeks, they can be very tender (even
painful) during the first few weeks of healing. You can tell when the piercing
is healed by pressing under the tip of the nose, if there is no pain it's generally
healed. However, you shouldn't start changing jewelry or try to stretch the wound
until it's fully healed (usually 8-10 weeks). Once the septum piercing is healed
it always stays open, however, it may require a taper pin to insert the jewelry
but the hole never closes up fully.
DO's & DONT'S TO HEAL YOUR SEPTUM PIERCINGTHE NUMBER ONE
REASON FOR INFECTION IS TOUCHING AND PLAYING WITH THE PIERCING, ONLY TOUCH THE
PIERCING WHEN YOU ARE CLEANING IT!
- DO clean the piercing in the shower every day by soaking the piercing
with a cotton wool ball soaked in salt water (or saline solution). Soak the
piercing for 4-5 minutes and then rinse with fresh water.
- DO Make sure when washing to remove all the crusting using a cotton wool
bud soaked in salt water. If it's not cleaned off properly it can concrete
around the ring and tear the inside of the wound when the ring moves, this
can be painful and lead to inflammation and delayed healing. Secondly, if
it's not removed bacteria can feed on it and infect the wound.
- DO make sure that you dry the piercing thoroughly after cleaning, this should
be done by patting (not rubbing) dry with a paper tissue as towels can harbor
- DO use pure essential Lavender oil as it's very good for healing, and is
a mild natural anesthetic. Apply 1-2 drops (no more!) every second day after
a shower to promote healing. Let the Lavender oil soak the piercing and remove
any excess with a tissue. Excessive use of Lavender oil may result in skin
- DO pull the tips of your septum keeper down when you clean the piercing
- DON'T turn the ring in the piercing for the first 3-4 weeks, move it
very gently and only enough to remove the crusting, after that you can turn
it enough for cleaning. Moving the ring constantly aggravates the wound and
- DON'T pick at the scab as this will cause excessive scar tissue
formation and lead to infections.
- DON'T remove the ring because you will lose the piercing. Don't replace
the jewelry with a sleeper because the sharp hinges can tear the inside of
the wound and increase the chance of infection. Silver sleepers are especially
dangerous, as the silver oxidises in the wound which can cause allergic reactions
and "Argyria" a permanent black mark inside the wound.
- DON'T try to remove the ball from the ring yourself, you need a circlip
plier to do this and if you attempt to do it yourself you will probably damage
the ring or not be able to get the ball back in the ring. If you wish to change
the jewelry see me or another piercer to do it for you.
©Cheyenne Morrison, One Tribe, Australia 98 ©2006-2007
Bruce Kurson, Savage and Heads Tattoos