I’ve always thought the Indian art of making Mehndi with henna was extremely beautiful. I realize to them it is a semi-sacred art form, and I respect that; however, I would like to have a Mehndi canvas, tapestry, or a Mehndi design on a plain leather purse.
I also realize that might offend some people. I am sorry. I really, truly love your designs. I found out that henna is the tattoo form, and Mehndi is the specific Indian bridal tradition using henna.
The designs are usually dainty and intricate. They remind me slightly of the Samoan tatau, or pe’a, art if it’s on the legs. Tatau is more chunky, though. Also, tatua is traditionally done on Samoan men, but several women have gotten tatau’s. When a woman gets this ink, it is called a Malu. The word tattoo in English is believed to have come from the Polynesian word ‘tatau.’ Getting a tatau is an extremely painful process done with traditional tools including turtle shell and wood. It includes a great deal of ceremony and ritual. I know enough already to know that I’m out. I’m not Samoan; I’m not tough. This sounds entirely too brutal for my tastes.
Any-who, henna is used to make Mehndi; Mehndi is not that much like tatau’s except for the fact that they’re both ceremonial in nature. I think I was just reminded of tataus because I recently learned of their existence. Mehndi is much more intricate in nature than any of the tataus I have observed. Mehndi is created using a paste, created from the powdered dry leaves of the henna plant. Fun fact, the scientific name of the henna plant is Lawsonia inermis.
In a how-to article for applying henna, the author describes henna application in the following way:
“Henna is basically a dye that gives a cooling effect when applied on the skin and gives red color to it. It is mostly used on hair as a natural dye, but it is also commonly used to decorate hands. When it dries completely, the skin or hair is washed with water to reveal the dyed color. Asian brides are not complete until they have applied Henna on their hands and feet.”
Here’s the link for that article: http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-apply-Henna-Mehndi-on-your-Hands/
According to Asian Women Magazine, the origins of Mehndi trace back to the 12th century AD. The Mughals taught Indians all about the history of Mehndi and introduced it to India. During that period only the royal and rich could use Mehndi to decorate themselves. Artists and beauticians painstakingly drew the delicate patterns for Indian ceremonies, particularly weddings. Eventually, henna became a popular adornment not only for the rich but also for the poor, who could not afford jewelry. The poor used it to decorate their bodies.
Today traditional Indian weddings are considered incomplete without the Mehndi ceremony. The ritual of the Mehndi ceremony is followed in every part of India. The hands and sometimes the feet of the bride are adorned with the lovely red color of the Mehndi. On these festive occasions the bride is adorned with mostly traditional Indian designs.
Henna art used for Mehndi hails from Egypt. Egypt used henna to create an art from, and there is some documentation that it is over 9000 years old. It is documented that Cleopatra used henna for decorative purposes. There is also evidence that henna was used to stain the fingers and toes of Pharaohs prior to mummification. The mummification process took many days, and as the Egyptians were diligent in planning their rebirth after their death, they were very meticulous in their preservation process. The Egyptians believed that body art ensured their recognition in the afterlife. Mehndi was used to make each Pharaoh unique from the rest.
If you want to try to make your own henna paste, use this recipe found on http://www.touregypt.net/egypt-info/magazine-mag01012001-mag4.htm .
“(This is a basic recipe for creating henna paste. It is only one among millions: in some regions every family has a closely guarded secret recipe, including various add-ins guaranteed to improve the hue and longevity. Take this one and experiment: you can add espresso, rose petals, saffron or hibiscus flowers.)
One teaspoon powdered and sifted henna powder
Two teaspoons strong black tea
5 drops of essential oil of eucalyptus
- In a glass mixing bowl, combine all ingredients.
- Mix, stirring in one direction to eliminate any lumps. The texture should be akin to toothpaste or stiff cake frosting: add extra powder or liquid, a little at a time, to achieve this consistency.
- Once the paste is smooth, cover the bowl with a towel and let it sit overnight in a warm place before using.
Henna is used for many reasons including the following: self-expression; celebration of special occasions like weddings, holidays & birthdays; inspiration; reminders; beauty; cosmetic treatments; medicinal uses; blessings & well-being; to be part of an ancient tradition; and an alternative or precursor to a tattoo. Whatever your reason for trying henna, make sure you thoroughly explore the ingredients used in the paste if you have specific allergies or sensitive skin before you try to apply it. If it’s safe for you to use, don’t be afraid to express yourself with this beautiful art form!
“If you aren’t going to create what you want in your life, who is? And if you aren’t going to do it now, then when? Let’s get started!” -Jessica Dilullo Herrin