Looking at the ancient art of henna
The origins of henna -
Henna has been used in its powder and paste forms as a natural dye and herbal remedy for thousands of years.
The term henna is Arabic and refers to both the plant and the substance extracted from the plant. In India, henna is known as mehndi.
The henna plant -
Henna is derived from the fragrant henna plant, or lawsonia intermis. Henna thrives in dry soil at temperatures of around 120°F (48°C).
Henna products - Henna is high in lawsone, a natural deep orange/reddish dye, so while the paste is green, the resulting color is red-toned.
Color range -
The result can range from faint orange to deep burgundy, depending on the quality of the henna, the length of time it sits on the skin, and how the skin takes it.
Early medicinal use -
Henna was also believed to have medicinal value, and was used to treat a wide range of ailments such as headaches, stomach aches, burns etc.
Ancient Egypt -
In ancient Egypt, henna was used decoratively on the body as a beauty practice.
Henna and celebration - In most countries where henna is used, it is associated with times of celebration.
In India, henna is traditionally associated with weddings, but it is also worn during religious holidays and cultural festivities like Diwali.
Wedding henna -
Henna plays a huge role in Indian weddings. In the run-up, there is usually a henna night where the bride-to-be is decorated with intricate designs.
The most intricate designs and the darkest henna are usually concentrated on the warmest parts of the body, such as the palms or the feet.
The Sahasrara -
The Sahasrara is a complex symbol that looks like a lotus flower and signifies unity. It’s most commonly found drawn on the palms.
The lotus flower -
Flowers are commonly seen in henna designs, with the lotus flower being the most popular, as it symbolizes grace and purity.
The eye -
An eye or evil eye symbol is usually drawn for protection against evil intent
Other beliefs -
These are just a few examples of the many different symbols and patterns found in henna tattoos, each with its own meaning and intention.
North African henna -
While India has the most internationally known henna culture, it’s also commonly used in North Africa.
Other uses for henna -
Henna has many other applications in health, beauty, and even the textile industry. Other cosmetic uses for henna include dying nails and hair.
Hair dye -
Henna can add a copper or burgundy tone when applied to the hair, and is ideal for covering up roots or gray hairs without causing damage.