Pirates might be the terrors of the high seas, but they also suffer from a lot of stereotypes. The parrot on the shoulder, the swashbuckling sword, and the eye patch are just a few of the accouterments you can expect to see in any depiction of a pirate. But at least one dress item made sense: the earring. There are ample reasons why a pirate might sport some dangling jewelry. For one thing, a gold or silver earring found on a dead pirate's body was meant to pay for his funeral arrangements. In fact, some pirates even engraved their earrings with the names of their home port so that their body could be transported there. Other reasons for wearing earrings included having a piece of wax available at all times to block the sound of cannon fire. Earrings also served to boast of their travels and show off their seafaring exploits. There were also superstitious reasons, such as believing that the jewelry might improve one's eyesight or keep one safe from drowning. Alas, not all of these superstitions proved seaworthy.
A peek at pirates:
- Most pirate ships sported a plain black flag to scare other ships, not the notorious skull and crossbones.
- The earliest known pirates were the Sea Peoples, who purportedly attacked ships in the Mediterranean in the 14th century B.C.
- Pirates aren't just the stuff of history or legend. Today, Somali pirates continue to attack ships in the Gulf of Aden.