Wearing nose rings is an ancient practice with a 4,000-year history. People have worn nose rings to adorn themselves, to participate in religious rituals and to symbolize wedded bliss. Wearing a nose ring these days is more than a fad---in fact, nose piercing is the second-most requested type of piercing in the United States.
The practice of wearing nose rings is recorded in the biblical writings of the Old Testament. In the 16th century, Muslim invaders brought the practice of wearing nose rings and nose piercings to India. With the spread of the hippie movement in the late 1960s and 1970s in America, nose rings became popular among Westerners who traveled to India.
Nomadic tribes such as the Berber people of Africa and the Bedouins of the Middle East give nose rings to women as part of the marriage ritual. Husbands present nose rings during the marriage ceremony to symbolize their commitment to the arrangement. Nose rings for women are also popular in Nepal and Tibet. Indian women wear two types of nose jewelry: a nose ring called a "natthu" or "nath" and a stud called a "phul." Indian women wear nose rings to pay homage to Pavarthi, the Hindu goddess of marriage. The style and shape of nose rings vary in India based on whether the wearer lives in the South or the North.
There are three types of nose jewelry: nose rings, nose studs and septum rings. Men primarily wear septum rings, which were popular among Native American people. These rings go through the septum, the fleshy partition separating the nostrils. A nose screw is a flat piece of jewelry held into place by a screw, while a nose ring is a hoop placed through a hole in the nose. Nose rings are crafted out of gold, silver, titanium and stainless steel. Nose rings in India are often ornate, adorned with rubies, topaz, diamonds and pearls.
People consider getting nose rings for several reasons: as a visual symbol of rebellion against conservative ideal or their parents, as a symbol of beauty or for spiritual reasons. Men and women both wear nose jewelry, although nose rings are more common in women. Followers of the Goth and Punk movements also tend to wear nose rings. Nose piercings are notoriously tricky to heal. As with all body piercing, consult with a licensed technician or physician before wearing a nose ring.
Indian women typically wear nose rings in their left nostril. This is seen as a symbol of great beauty, a way to follow the teachings of Ayurveda or as an indicator of social standing. In America, nose rings are usually worn to represent individuality. Nose hoops can also be placed on the inner or outer portion of the ear, a style popular among teens who wish to wear nose jewelry without actually getting their noses pierced.