Returning from many discussions at the 15th annual APP conference, one of the subjects that lingered in my mind was an interpretation of traditional and modern piercing practices. I don’t believe that I would have ever chosen to describe my practice as “freehand” piercing. The more I hear it the term, the more distaste I seem to feel for it. It seems a disrespectful and condescending way to describe a common practice of body decoration that began before the written alphabet with little more than an adornment, a sharp object, basic antisepsis and good aim.
It seems evident that traditional ear, nostril and other body piercing practices did not involve modern instruments as they evolved over our collective history. Notable inventions such as the katiputan for a particular type of self-piercing and a few other devices in the sharps category such as needles and blades have found utility, but in most cases the goal may still be achieved by simpler means.
I believe that I will return to this topic in depth at a later date, as it continues to bother me in a similar way as when I hear “gauges” as slang for enlarged piercings.