Arka - A Fair Trade Company
Arka are based in Brighton in the UK and we've been selling hand crafted body jewellery online since 2006. Over the years we have built up good relationships with independent artists, manufacturers and crafts people all over the world meaning that we can supply high quality items at the most reasonable prices you will find anywhere. We operate on a fair trade
We'd like to say thanks very much for all the support, especially to our long term returning customers. Here's to another 10 years supplying quality plugs, tunnels, weights, earrings and body jewellery to all you lovely people.
We're a small, independent team, and we take pride in customer service, our mantra is 'we only want happy customers' You can see from our Trustpilot reviews
that we are serious about that. If you are tired of shoddy customer service from some of the larger shops then try us. We offer a money back guarantee if you are not fully satisfied with your jewellery. We are sure you will be! because we don't sell anything we wouldn't wear ourselves.Please read the returns policy on the terms and conditions page for details of our no quibble guarantee.
We are proud to be environmentally conscious, we ditched plastic padded envelopes in 2008! Read more about our policy here
I am not my body.
Coined by Fakir Musafa "I am not my body" is the mantra of all body modders the world over. It represents the belief that we exist beyond the flesh and blood that makes up our bodies. For thousands of years tribal peoples have modified their bodies with piercings, ear stretching and tattoo's. It is recognised as being a ritualistic rite of initiation, a symbol of clanship and a way of staking dominion over ones own flesh.
Ötzi the Iceman, (3300BC)
Ear stretching has been practiced by people all over the world from ancient times. Bone, Horn, Wood and Stone were generally carved for ear stretching, but other organic materials that had the right shape naturally, from shells to teeth and claws, were also used.
Even mummified bodies with stretched earlobes have been discovered, including the oldest mummified body discovered to date, that of Ötzi the Iceman, (3300BC) which was found in an Italian glacier. This mummy had a stretch of somewhere between 7 - 11mm (1 to 000 gauge) in diameter. He also had tattoos. We've been stretching our earlobes and tattooing our bodies in europe for over 5000 years!
The urge to decorate and modify our bodies is ancient and deep rooted, and shows no sign of stopping. Personally, I think most ear piercings in the past would have been large gauge, or at least turned out that way. I cant imagine prehistoric peoples wearing earings with a bar only a millimeter thick !
The stylised Moai we use in our logo is one of the famous giant 'Easter Island' Heads. 'Easter Island' is traditionally known as 'Rapa Nui'. The polynesian tribals who built these sculptures were famous for their stretched ear lobes. Easter Island, is situated in the southeast Pacific over 1,000 miles from the other islands of Eastern Polynesia and some 1,400 miles west of South America, it is one of the most remote inhabited places in the world.
Easter Island: Mysteries of a Lost World
There was recently a very interesting documentary about Rapa Nui on BBC4 called "Easter Island: Mysteries of a Lost World" featuring the work of Dr Jago Cooper.
"The contrast between the majestic statues of Easter Island and the desolation of their surroundings is stark. For decades Easter Island, or Rapa Nui as the islanders call it, has been seen as a warning from history for the planet as a whole - wilfully expend natural resources and the collapse of civilisation is inevitable.
But archaeologist Dr Jago Cooper believes this is a disastrous misreading of what happened on Easter Island. He believes that its culture was a success story not a failure, and the real reasons for its ultimate demise were far more shocking. Cooper argues that there is an important lesson that the experience of Easter Island can teach the rest of the world, but it doesn't begin by blaming its inhabitants for their own downfall.
This film examines the latest scientific and archaeological evidence to reveal a compelling new narrative, one that sees the famous statues as only part of a complex culture that thrived in isolation. Cooper finds a path between competing theories about what happened to Easter Island to make us see this unique place in a fresh light."
A short clip from the documentary is on YouTube
search for the full documentary on BBCIplayer.
Stretched Ear Lobes
There are lots of surviving wood sculptures from Rapa Nui. The sculptures all share a number of stylistic features; bald crania, prominent brow ridges and goatee beards!? Most of them depict the stretched earlobes that most of the men and women had, until the practice was discouraged by christian missionaries at the end of the nineteenth century. The stretched ear lobes are frequently depicted with ear plugs or flesh tunnels carved from shark bones !
"Orejones" means "big ears" in Spanish, and was used to describe Inca royalty; Hanau Eepe was once said to mean "long ears" and referred to the ruling class on Easter Island (vs. the Hanau Momoko or "short ears"). Stretched Earlobes were also a status symbol in elsewhere in the world ! If you dont believe me.. look it up.
Photo: Jon Bodsworth
Not many people know that Tutankhamen had stretched ear lobes... This is a picture of his inner coffin. Elaborate large gauge earrings were also found with bars about 10mm wide.
Photo: Erik Hooymans
This is the famous death mask
with stretched holes clearly visible
The Boy King
No-one knows why he isnt depicted actually wearing any earrings, even though his ears are clearly stretched, as is also seen in this depiction of him as a boy.
Photo: Jon Bodsworth
Buddha, as an aristocratic and wealthy prince had long stretched ears, He wore heavy gold earrings as a status symbol, very bling.. the more gold you had, the more you wore in your ears. The weight stretched his ear lobes dramatically.
When he finally renounced his wealth and discarded his jewelry, he ear lobes were permanently stretched. As a way of rememberiing Buddhas act of personal self-sacrifice, in walking away from his wealth, all succeeding images of Buddhas show his stretched ear lobes, but without jewellery.
Images of Buddha from India, Tibet, Thailand and Indonesia, although stylistically different, all emphasise his long stretched ears.
Major George Lowrey, also known as Rising Fawn, (1770-1852), Assistant Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation and member of the Executive Council. ! and he was half Scotish !
He was a banker, soldier, law enforcement officer, planter, breeder, and political leader, and he had massively stretched ears.
He wears a turban, saltire sash, and medal he received from the President of the United States, holds a wampum belt symbolic of his high office in tribal government, and has silver nose and ear ornaments of a Sephardic Jewish design. What a crossover !
His father came from Scotland and his mother was the daughter and granddaughter of Echota Cherokee chiefs. We reckon like Rising Fawn very much.
Thailand, Hmong People,
Photos: Steve Evans
Hill tribes live in the mountainous region of Thailand's north. Thais call them "chao khao" (mountain people). Each tribe keeps its own language, beliefs, and customs. Hmong woman wear huge ear lobe tunnels.
They start stretching their ears at a very young age, and wear very large metal tunnels throughout their whole lives.
Photo: Agencia Brasil
This man is from the Rikbaktsa tribe in Brazil. These are the largest stretches I've ever seen. We reckon theyre about 110-120mm wide... I think the plates are made of clay.Malaysia
From: Buschan, Georg (1900): Die Sitten der Völker.
Lirong woman with heavily extended earlobes. Circa 1900. She seems to be wearing her wealth on her ears, which was and still is a common practice for certain tribal peoples.
photo by Gryffindor
Ceremonial knife from Sicán in Peru. 850-1050 A.D.. This so-called tumi knife was given into the tombs of rich families in the norther coastal areas of modern-day Peru. This golden insignia depicts a richly ornated dignitary, with highly stretched ear lobes, who himself is holding a sacrificial knife in his hand. He was probably a priest or had some function as such. Originally the earlobes had turquoise inlaid in them. The backside is decorated with tear-shaped gold leaf.
Ethnologisches Museum Dahlem Berlin
Our Customer Feedback
Its all genuine..
"Dear Arka, I'm writing to you only to say big thank you for the quality and speed my order has been processed. I've ordered a couple of stretchers and tunnels on a Sunday night, asking if it's possible to get it sent over to me before Thursday. To my surprise I've received the package on Tuesday morning - all the right stuff safety packaged. If only I could wish for other shops to take you guys as an example! Keep it up!"
"Just wanted to share how delighted I've been with the delivery, packaging and products. I started stretching about 8 weeks ago and I'm up to a comfortable 0g now! Loving it and so tempted to go bigger! Pity for my small ear lobes! But I've done every bit of it through Arka and I couldn't be more pleased that I did! Great products; great service; great prices! Thanks you lot xx" Duncan UK
"Hello Mark! Again I must commend you on your fantastic speedy service. I got them today and I am well pleased with my purchase! The mega bling ones are just what I was looking for to shut people up about plugs being not pretty! Thanks again, sure i'll be ordering more when the time comes round. Kind regards" Danielle UK
"Hi Mark, just wanted to say thanks for getting my tunnels and plugs to me so quickly It was quite outstanding, standard recorded devilery and they were here this morning when i only ordered them yesterday morning! Anyways thanks a lot," Jon UK
"Just thought I'd tell you how much better your site is than all the other sites for a beginner to ear stretching, like me. "
Keep up the good work!" Danny, UK
"You should have a section for the reviews of your customers. I would be more than happy to say that your business are extremely professional and reliable. Thanks for the speed and good work, I will recommend your site to my friends." Walace, UK
"Hi Mark, Many thanks, items received this morning. Can I just say that your postage rates/times are fantastic, such a delight to know that within a few days from placing order we get the items. Many thanks. Louise. UK"
"Just to let you know my order arrived this morning! That was a really quick turnaround. The items were well packaged and arrived in excellent condition. I'm so, so pleased with my blue glass hooks and stretchers. The only problem is my daughter wants them off me... so I'll definitely be ordering again. Many thanks for a courteous, smooth and hassle free transaction. Best wishes " Michelle, Middlesbrough
"So far your site is the only one that is responsible with both in stock products and efficient delivery, Cheers" Steve, New York, USA
"Hey there Mark, I just wanted to let you know that I received the jewellery yesterday and that I absolutely love it. Your customer service is fab and I will most definitely be using Arka in the future. Thank you so much. All the best, Christine
"Good morning Mark, I just wanted to say that I have received my earrings on the 18th of December; they are exactly what I was expecting and looking for. They also arrived in the time frame provided which is great. Thank you very much for the prompt service and Happy Holidays! " Melyssa, Canada
"Hiya, Just wanted to say thanks for the fast delivery of my plugs - within 2 days! I love them and havent seen them anywhere else before. The Dichroic glass plugs especially are beautiful and very effective - will be buying from here again and definatley recomending you to others.
Thanks again !" Alix
"Just wanted to say thank you for all the support i have gained here. i will definately buy my next tunnels on this website." Daniel, Denmark
"I have just received my stretcher this morning and wanted to say what an excellent efficient service you provide.I will certainly use you again and tell my friends. Thank you." Kay, Hull
"Hi Mark, Just thought I'd drop you a line to say ta very much for the voucher you sent, tis good to feel like a valued customer! Anyway, I'll be sure to use it on my next order, thanks again man. Congrats on a nice looking site, and consistently good service by the way!" Ross, Brighton, UK
"Thank you very for the quick and hassel-free service. It arrived quickly and by recorded post. I will definatley recommend you to other people. Thank you again." Rebecca, Frinton, UK
"Hi! I just received my order yesterday - and I am very happy with everything. Thank you so much for such good service! I've never ordered anything online, and you made it so easy. I will definately be ordering more!" Cathy, Pennsylvania, USA
"Just wanted to say a big thank you for my order. We spoke a couple of times on the phone and I thought I was being a pain but you were very gracious and very helpful.I would definately recommend (and already have!) your website and service to my friends as I have been very impressed." Steve, Essex, UK
"Mark, Just a quick note to say thanks, my dragon stretcher arrived today, and it's so beautiful. and definitely worth the price. I was surprised how quickly it got here, coming from over seas! I am sure you will hear from me again, Thanks, " Rochelle USA
"I wanted to let you know how impressed I am with the flesh tunnels and plugs I purchased last week. In particular the Indian God Flesh Tunnel Vishnu. I couldnt believe the quality of them for a start, the detail is amazing and exactly how it looks in the photo! Anyway, too many customers complain and when its justified none give praise so I wanted to buck the trend. Many thanks to all of you at ARKA. Ryan UK