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.
Mummified bodies with stretched earlobes have been discovered, including the oldest mummified body discovered to date: Ötzi the Iceman (3300BC). This mummy had a stretch of somewhere between 7–11 millimeters (0.28–0.43 in) in diameter.
Gautama Buddha, an aristocratic and wealthy prince, had long stretched ears. He wore heavy gold earrings or precious stones as a status symbol, and the weight stretched his ear lobes dramatically. When he finally renounced his wealth and discarded his jewelry, his ear lobes were permanently stretched. As a way of remembering Buddha's act of personal self-sacrifice in walking away from his wealth, all succeeding images of Gautama Buddha show his stretched ear lobes sans jewelery.