Egypt[ edit ] In EgyptHenna is an Ancient tradition practised among women on many occasions. At weddings, all women gather the night before the big day and start having Egyptian Henna drawings all over their hands and then on the feet but with lesser extent. Egyptian women also use Henna in different colours as a natural and healthy way to dye their hair, since local made Henna is used for smoothing hair too. They believe that by applying henna to their body and practicing body art publicly, the wearer can bring happiness, integrity, and fortune to her life, protect herself from the evil eye and guarantee an afterlife place in heaven.
From the deserts of North Africa to the villages on northern India, magnificent designs blossom and vanish upon the hands and feet of women as they have for thousands of years. Henna leaves can also be made into a tea to calm the stomach, and the paste has a cooling effect on the skin; consequently it can be used to relieve high temperatures.
However, it is the wearing of henna as a decorative adornment that I wish to focus on in my research, as it is this use that is being copied in the West.
It is associated with transformation and transcendence. A lot of people, particularly girls, enjoy wearing henna at music festivals as it is indeed a beautiful art form and they like the exoticism.
Perhaps this is ok. But I wonder, if we were to ask how many of them knew where henna came from, what cultural significance it holds and what other uses it has, how many of them would have any sort of answer. I suspect not so many.
So maybe this is where true appropriation lies? Using an aspect of another culture purely to better yourself with no knowledge of what it means or where it comes from?
Many do not acknowledge the significance of the patterns and designs that they themselves use. It is not uncommon to hear a woman who has been doing henna all her life tell you that a specific traditional design has no particular meaning.
The idea of that, really, is terrifying. So what is the meaning of henna? For example, the six pointed star signifies the union of the feminine and masculine principles, and the diamond symbolises enlightenment. The circle often represents the circle of life, and it can mean wholeness, or man in relation to the universe and the stars.
The lotus is another important symbol often used in henna, to mean fertility and renewal. The mango is often painted on brides along with roses, as a symbol of virginity and of the advent of summer.
These patterns differ according to whereabouts on the body the henna is painted; for example on areas of thinner skin such as the back of the hands, bold patterns work better as the skin does not show the pattern as well as the palm.
The patterns also differ according to where the style originates from. For example, in Morocco there is much more emphasis on using henna to attract good fortune, or to heal ill loved ones, and so the patterns are decided on which symbols are likely to best achieve this.
In Africa, animals are represented with minimalist symbols. This leads me to wonder if perhaps westerners look to other cultures for rich, cultured, artistic experiences because their own culture is lacking in them?
But henna is more than just patterns. The stillness that must be practised during the application of henna is an important break from increasingly fast paced and hectic lives. People gather to do henna for a myriad of reasons, ranging from the trivial to the profound….
Whatever the celebration, the use of henna helps to create a special and memorable occasion.Mehndi or mehendi is a form of body art from Ancient India, in which decorative designs are created on a person's body, using a paste, created from the powdered dry leaves of the henna plant (Lawsonia inermis).
Aug 29, · Most of the information I have gathered in this research is from the book ‘Mehndi: The Timeless art of henna painting’ by Loretta Roome, St Martins Press, New York, Notably, pages ,8,,,49,53,64, Hollywood actors and celebrities have made this painless art of body painting famous.
Actress Demi Moore, and 'No Doubt' crooner Gwen Stefani were among the first to sport Mehendi. Since then stars like Madonna, Drew Barrymore, Naomi Campbell, Liv Tyler, Nell McAndrew, Mira Sorvino, Daryl Hannah, Angela Bassett, Laura Dern, Laurence Fishburne, and Kathleen Robertson have all tried Henna .
Jul 01, · The art of applying henna to the hands and feet is known as Mehndi, and is traditionally used for celebrations and rites of passage.
Every culture and region of the world uses henna tattoos in its own unique way. While the art of henna tattooing is a cultural practice that dates back over 5, years, henna tattooing today is used as a popular form of expression for luck and happiness and can be found in many ceremonial practices, including Blessingways, marriages, births and battle.
Ancient and Traditional, Henna has been used for centuries for body decoration. Ancient Egyptians used henna prior to mummification.
People all over the world continue to use henna, primarily for cosmetic purposes. However, in countries where henna is rooted in historical tradition, members of the working class more commonly apply henna for medicinal and healing purposes, as well as connection to Spirit.