The septum – medical professionals would say it’s the cartilage wall in between the nostrils. In the piercing world it can refer to everything that divides the nostrils – in fact usually a septum piercing does not pierce the cartilage at all, but the tissue that joins onto the cartilage at the base. This area is sometimes referred to as the ‘sweet spot.’

A mainstay of tribal cultures, the septum piercing has taken many guises over the course of history. The image of the septum-pierced tribesman is undoubtedly iconic in every way. It is seen as a mark of strength and bravery, a symbol of the hunter, warrior, medicine man or leader. Mesoamerican tribes from Mexico to Peru can be seen with septum wear, again predominantly a statement of male physical prowess and an intimidating style for warrior cultures. Other examples of traditional septum jewelry can be found in Bengali cultures (the Nathori), with septum and nose adornments denoting marital status amongst women.

Nothing makes a statement like a septum piercing. Because of the potential strength of the visual statement, it can take a certain degree of subtlety to get this piercing right. In today’s piercing environment, we aren’t just talking about primitive pieces of bone (although if that’s your style, you won’t struggle to find exactly that!) Suppliers and studios can provide a huge range of styles and materials, meaning that if you want the tribesman to look, you are definitely covered, but at the same time, more sophisticated looks are more than viable. Modern advanced industrial techniques in manufacturing and a huge pool of creative talent make the possibilities almost endless. Organic bone tusks much like you might find in stone-age tribes can be found alongside delicate rose-gold and BioFlex glow in the dark. Captive bead rings, barbells, circular barbells, pincers, clickers and much more expand things further. A good range of gauge and jewelry sizes is also essential to cover a broad variety of desired looks, which is something any good studio knows to cater for. And for those who fear to take the ‘bull by the horns,’ you can have an identical look without any needles coming near you whatsoever, with a huge variety of fake piercings on the market.

Because the septum piercing look can be so striking, it’s a piercing that you should take some time to decide on. There are many factors to consider, not least of which the fact that individual nasal anatomy should be taken into consideration – in terms of a comfortable fit, and whether or not the sweet spot can accommodate a straight and even piercing. If your nose is naturally or unnaturally asymmetrical, then maybe this piercing isn’t the one to go for. This is of course what any good piercing studio is there to give you advice on, letting you avoid any undesirable aesthetic factors and have the right balance to fit your features. It’s a piercing with an average level of pain but with a long heal time of about 6-8 weeks, during which time the jewelry shouldn’t be changed, so there’s that to think about. Once healed it’s fairly concealable and won’t close up immediately – handy for those formal engagements, or when you don’t want to terrify your relatives. Any unreasonable workplace regulations can be circumvented by the use of a good old retainer – making your septum piercing as discreet as possible and doing wonders for your job security in the process!

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