Encyclopedia of Body Adornment

By Margo Demello | Go to book overview

L

LABRETS

A labret is a piercing that is attached below the lower lip, above the chin.

Also known as the “Mao” (because it looks like the mole above Mao Zedong’s chin), the jewelry used in the labret is usually a labret stud, which consists of a metal shaft with a simple round stud protruding from the face; it is attached inside of the lip with a flat piece of backing metal. Also popular is the labret spike, which is structurally similar to the labret stud but looks more like an arrowhead protruding from the face. Captive bead rings (in which a bead bisects the ring and is held in place by the spring pressure of the metal) can also be used in labret piercings, but when a ring is worn, the piercing is generally referred to as a lip piercing, rather than a labret, because the ring encircles the lip; a typical labret looks like a bead or stud emerging from underneath the lip.

While the single stud underneath the lip is the most traditional and common form of the labret, a number of newer forms are worn today. A lowbret is a piercing placed as low as possible on the chin, but still accessible through the inside of the mouth. A Medusa is the opposite of a labret piercing, with the stud emerging from above the upper lip, below the nose, rather than below the lower lip. A Madonna or Monroe is a Medusa labret placed above and to the outside of the lip area, in order to simulate a beauty mark of the kind worn by Madonna and Marilyn Monroe. The jewelry used for these piercings is typically a labret stud or a jeweled stud.

Whereas normally labrets only show a single bead or stud, the vertical labret piercing is a piercing in which two studs are visible, one beneath the lip in the area in which a normal labret would be positioned, with the second positioned directly on top of the lower lip. A jestrum is very similar, but it’s a vertical labret that pierces the upper lip and the area above the upper lip, with studs emerging from just below and just above the upper lip. Two labrets on each side of the lower lip are called snakebites or venom piercings, because the double holes look somewhat like snake bites.

Labrets have been commonly worn by cultures around the world, and in fact, the labret is one of the most commonly seen facial piercing in non-Western cultures. Traditional labrets were made of wood, ivory, metal, or quartz and other stones.

Labrets were worn, starting perhaps 3,000 to 4,000 years ago, among a number of Native American tribes, including many Northwest Coast Indians, such as the Tlingit, Haida, Chugach, Inuit, and Tsimshian, among whom the labret was often

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Encyclopedia of Body Adornment
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Entries vii
  • Guide to Related Topics xi
  • Preface xv
  • Introduction xvii
  • A 1
  • B 23
  • C 55
  • D 91
  • E 93
  • F 109
  • G 125
  • H 139
  • I 155
  • J 167
  • L 175
  • M 181
  • N 197
  • O 207
  • P 211
  • R 229
  • S 233
  • T 255
  • W 291
  • Y 295
  • Z 297
  • Resource Guide 301
  • Bibliography 305
  • Index 319
  • About the Author 327
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