What Is the Meaning of a Ring in the Nose?

Portrait of a young man with facial piercing

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Nose rings, which have symbolic meaning in Indian, African and some Muslim cultures, are gaining popularity in other areas of the world as well. In fact, in the United States, nose piercing may be seen as an act of rebellion against conservative values. Depending on where you live a nose ring can have different meanings -- such as the expressions of cultural values or a decoration to enhance your appearance.


In ancient India, the nose was meant for more than breathing and detecting smells. In fact, 6,000 year old Vedic Scripts and manuscripts mention nose piercing and nose rings. At that time it was believed that the nose was also involved with fertility. In the 1970s hippies who traveled to India learned about nose piercings and embraced the practice.

In other parts of the world, South Africa in particular, nose jewels are worn by the Berber and Beja to display their wealth. The Berber and Beja believe, however, that larger the jewel, the wealthier the family. As body piercing gains popularity, nose piercing is becoming more main stream.


Decorating the nose is also important because the ancients believed the sixth sense, which represents brainwave focus, is located just above the end of the nose. In India, brides wear nose rings or studs because they are attractive and imply that the bride is worthy. It is also believed that the nose connects with romantic, sexual and emotional feelings.


In Ayurvedic medicine nose piercing is associated with female reproductive organs. It is believed that nose piercing helps reduce periodic menstrual pain and discomfort and that it assures less pain during child birth.


In India, the nose ring is an important part of the bridal costume and is worn in either the left or right nostril depending on where the bride is from. The nose ring is believed to enhance the bride's beauty in her husband's eyes. Nose rings, which may be decorated with fish, birds, jewels and pearls, are made of either gold or silver. It is not uncommon to see married Indian women of childbearing age wearing a small stud or stead in the left nostril of their nose every day.


Nose piercings in Western cultures seem to be strictly for adornment purposes. There is no cultural or historical requirement or meaning such as in Indian, African and Muslim cultures. In the United States, nose piercing is more a modern fashion statement.