Are you wondering who, when, and why men started wearing jewelry? What changes have they undergone throughout their evolution? That's good, that's the topic of this article. He particularly focuses on the impact of ancient ornaments on modern men's jewelry, as well as ethnic influences.
Strangely, the first to exploit the beautifying power of jewelry were men. It all started from the time of the Stone Age. Naturally, our ancestors had a limited choice of materials: teeth, claws, fur, leather and other similar things found in nature. Nevertheless, these decorative elements made it possible to better reflect the status of a man in society. As well as equipping it with distinctive marks and/or amulets.
Thousands of years later, the beliefs and ideas of our ancestors continue to influence the way men wear their jewellery. Even new trends, if you dig a little deeper, aren't that new. In fact, they are as old as the dawn of time. Looking through the long history of men's jewelry, you can see that the "stronger sex" has never been afraid to wear shiny things.
Men's jewelry as amulets and status items
To know the position of men in relation to jewelry thousands of years ago, we have to content ourselves with analyzing cave paintings and archaeological finds. Yet these elements are more than enough to understand why men wore body ornaments. For cavemen, claws and teeth served as a totem, a mark of belonging to a certain clan, as well as a sign of strength and bravery. In addition to this, by keeping as a "trophy" a part of a beast or of a defeated enemy, the warriors appropriated their power.
Social stratification influenced jewelry much later. The more civilized the world became, the more important bodily accessories and the materials they were made of became. The most emblematic pieces in this regard belonged to rulers, members of authority and priests. For the ruling elite, jewelry became a symbol of power. In a way, they were promoting the right to the throne. For priests, shamans and servants of God, the accessories on the neck, arms and on the head had a sacred meaning. People who served deities believed that special materials or shapes promoted communication with God. That they served in rituals. Globally, the most valuable jewelry in the ancient world belonged to wealthy, powerful, and influential people.
The Middle Ages relegated the importance of jewelry to the background. With the exception of the nobility and the rulers, the masses had a fairly ascetic life. The church had developed strict rules regarding the wearing of rings, bracelets and other types of jewelry. Basically, the populace was not allowed to own or wear any accessories. Breaking the law was complicated, since she couldn't afford them anyway.
This jewelry veto was lifted in the 8th century when morality became much less strict. Even the most powerful king of antiquity would look upon this shameless luxury with envy. Gold, silver, platinum. A myriad of gemstones setting the jewelry to make 1 shine.000 fires every well-to-do man. Commoners now had the right to own jewelry and accessories. But what they wore was modest and functional.
Men's necklaces and crowns
The production of men's head jewelry essentially stopped with the end of the monarchy. There is no place for crowns or tiaras in the life of the average man. And never mind, there are other more suitable male jewels. In particular necklaces and pendants, which were important in prehistoric times. However, time has erased their meanings and purpose.
Today, we have in mind the image of the ancient Egyptians wearing their pendant in the shape of the sun. Or even Vikings wearing medallions with an ax motif. True, many guys still choose these ancient symbols for their modern jewelry, but they no longer have the same meaning. Most men in the 21st century have stopped believing in gods, fate and magic. Nevertheless, the old and ethnic symbols are very precious to forge a certain identity, to work on one's style.
Men's rings and bracelets
Of all the meanings historically associated with men's rings, only 2 survive to this day in Europe:
- The wedding
However, back in the day, rings played many important roles. For example, a signet featured an inverted monogram. When the ring was heated, it could serve as a seal, thus validating the authenticity of a letter or document. Archers use very large metal rings to protect their fingers from cuts in their bowstring. Finally, the rings were in a way a means of payment for loyal services rendered, a currency or even the symbol of a successful career as a courtier.
Today, men's silver rings, or gold, are more decorative than functional. Certainly, some display them to ostensibly show their belonging to a certain community or group (for example, popes and their episcopal rings). But this phenomenon is rather confidential.
When it comes to men's bracelets, their function and importance have also been shaken up. During the Crusades and the Age of the Knights, studded bracelets became a kind of secondary weapon in sword fights. The leather bracelets that covered the entire forearm served as armor and protection against enemy blades. Priests used wooden bracelets and stone in their prayers (rosaries). Today, while men's bracelets have almost completely lost their practical utility, the influence of these utilitarian bracelets can still be felt today. For example, studded leather bracelets are commonplace in biker and rocker communities. The influence of rosaries can be found in many men's bracelets today, such as ball bracelets.
Today, men wear earrings without complex. This men's jewelry is considered elegant, fashionable. However, our male ancestors pierced their ears to accommodate these earrings with a certain purpose in mind. Earrings were common among sailors and pirates. It could be a trophy. For example, you could only claim an earring if you had crossed the Equator. If a pirate died on land, his earring was used to finance a decent funeral. Gunners pierced their ears so they could attach wax plugs. This protected their ears from the detonations of their guns.