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  • Ampallang

    Posted by Charles LaFave

    According to the Releases of the Anthropological Society in Vienna, January 1894 edition, the Ampallang was likely first observed by Nicholas Miklukho-Maclay, a Russian explorer known for spending time with indigenous people who had never seen a European before. In the liberal intellectual circles of Vienna in 1894, it was described as being for sexual stimulation, particularly for females.

    If you’re in the dark about what an Ampallang is, it’s a piercing of the penis, sideways through the head.

     

    A depiction of strawberry
    See how that toothpick is going through the strawberry? Like that.
    The kiwi is not relevant to this example.
     

    If you’re imagining this being done with a needle, you’re not wrong. Silver needles were used to pierce the penis, and then an oiled pigeon feather was put in the hole, pointy part first. Of course, that’s how the Dayaks did it in the post European-meeting-era. Before this, they did not have silver needles, and used sharpened bamboo sticks instead.

    Jewelry would be inserted after the healing was done, a rod made of silver, copper, gold, ivory, bone or brass, often with balls at the ends to hold them in place. Just like the jewelry you’d put in your Ampallang now, if you have one.

    Some adornments might be added, if you were a Dayak in the 1800s. Often having more than one of these, Dayak men might add “little brushes” to the ends in place of balls, or use the Ampallang to hold a woven ring in place made of palm fiber. Kind of an itchy, pokey pleasure apparatus.

    These brushes, by the way, might be made of bristles of some natural fiber or goat’s eyelashes. Lots of people mentioned the goat’s eyelashes, like they were really into goat’s eyelashes during sex.

     

    A depiction of sexy
    I mean, otherwise you’d just be wasting them, right?
     

    If you’re thinking that discussions of all this, in say Studies in the Psychology of Sex from 1903 are fascinating, you’d be right. In it, author Havelock Ellis says, “…they show that a certain amount of what we cannot but regard as painful stimulation is craved by women.” Ellis does mention that, during sexual stimulation, it’s just possible that what might otherwise be painful is actually pleasurable.

    This, after he describes experiments where fingers were placed alternately in women’s vaginas and anuses to see if they (the women) could tell which orifice the finger was in. You know, for science.

    In a revelation that probably would have blown Havelock Ellis’s mind, Miklukho-Maclay theorized that the whole Ampallang concept was designed and put in place by women, since it was painful and dangerous for the men to do. Not that bamboo sticks and pigeon feathers might cause your penis to get infected and fall off. But, you know, they might.

    There’s a reason Bodyartforms doesn’t sell aftercare pigeon feathers.

    In his writings about the Ampallang, Miklukho-Maclay says, “In any case, it is kept up by incessant female demands, whilst the men without this arrangement for fitting the stimulus apparatus are repulsed by the women. The men who have several such perforations and can wear several instruments are specially sought after and admired by the women.”

    In other words, no Ampallang = no sexy time. While double Ampallang = Mr. Popular.

    Several sources I read also mentioned various codes used over the years for Dayak women to indicate to the men what sort of ‘stimulus apparatus’ they wanted them to wear, using a cigarette wrapped in a siri leaf, for example, or by the use of blush on the woman’s forehead in a certain shape.

     

    A depiction of makeup
    She wants extra goat eyelash.
     

    If you’re thinking of heading to your local piercer for an Ampallang, Elayne Angel, author of The Piercing Bible says that the piercing usually takes 4-6 months to heal, doesn’t bleed much, and, according to her clients, doesn’t hurt as badly as you’d expect. Some folks said a nipple or ear piercing was actually worse.

    So there’s no reason not to get one.

    Questions and comments about this blog? Reach me at Blog@bodyartforms.com.

    Thanks to Elayne Angel’s site, PiercingBible.com, and to Woman: An Historical Gynæcological and Anthropological Compendium, which were both used as sources for this article.




    Categories: History & Culture

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