The Marley is an oral piercing of what is called “the tongue web,” or more accurately, the frenulum linguae. This is the thin strip of tissue underneath the tongue that connects it to the lower gum plate. Most people can get this piercing fairly simply, however, due to the varying thicknesses and positions of the tissue, a small amount of persons will be unable to get a proper Marley piercing.
The Marley is considered a contemporary piercing because it first began popping up in the 1990’s, although little is known about the piercing’s specific origin or who exactly first applied the name “Marley” or “Marly” to tongue frenulum piercing. It has been suggested in many circles that the name Marley is a reference to famous and celebrated rasta movement icon and reggae vocalist Bob Marley, and may represent freedom through the spoken word, as without the frenulum linguae, we would be unable to speak.
For the most part, this type of piercing is recognized as having a higher than average rate of rejection, although initial healing is fairly quick at a mere two to ten weeks. Due to the location and the shape of the frenulum itself, Marleys are usually done in a sixteen or eighteen gauge, and circulars or curved barbells are normally worn. Although it has a reputation for being somewhat painful, tongue web piercing tends to have little associated issues as long as proper aftercare (consisting primarily of rinses) is followed to the letter.
If you haven’t heard of the Marley, it’s likely due to its ambiguity. Though it claims to have been around since at least the mid nineties, tongue web piercing neglected to truly catch on until just the past few years. And although piercers on the East and West coasts respectively may be aware of its existence or even small levels of popularity, many of those in the Central and Midwestern United States will be able to say that they have performed a Marley piercing less than a handful of times, making it one of the coolest piercings you may have never heard of.