Have you heard or seen women with long ear lobes? Believe it or not I used to have long ear lobes until I was 16 years old. Since time immemorial most of Sarawak’s indigenous groups have maintained this practice of wearing extended ear-lobes as a symbol of personal beauty. The longer a lady’s ear-lobes were, the prettier she looked! At an early age a girl would have both her ear-lobes pierced. After the initial cuts had healed a brass ring would be attached through both ear-lobes. Over time several more rings would be added in equal quantity to both ear-lobes. In time the weight of these objects would cause ear-lobes to gradually extend downwards until the brass rings rested just below the collar bone. Among the older women their ear-lobes would be even more extended with the brass rings resting just above their breasts.
In a way it is sad to see the present generation of ladies doing away with this age-old practice of body ornamentation. To the uninitiated the practice of piercing one’s ear-lobes for beauty’s sake would be regarded as a form of body mutilation but it must be seen in its proper perspective. People of different cultures practice different ways of beautifying themselves. What might be “acceptable” to one culture might be anathema to another. As the saying goes, people practice their culture in a way that best suits them. The younger generation does not follow this tradition anymore and it is considered a thing of the past now. Our young ladies nowadays feel embarrassed wearing earring on extended ear-lobes and they are voluntarily giving up this practice as it appears impractical in today’s modern setting.
Above is a picture of me with extended ear-lobes taken when I was in Standard Three. Back in those days my mother would help me shine the brass rings with “Brasso” to keep them shining all the time.