Henna Tattoo Design Definations
For thousands of years man has wanted to paint his body. Before even primitive clothing came about mans means of being part of a tribe or to be dramatically different would be to stain the body with plant dyes.
The results were fantastic and henna alongside other dyes like indigo was a temporary yet extremely satisfying way of creating a deep colour on the skin.
Henna (from the plant lawsonia inermia) is known as many names and is predominantly found in North Africa, Eygpt, India and parts of the Middle East. It is best known for its dried, ground leaves that produce a colourfast dye in shades varying from pale brown through to dark russet reds. It can be used to dye hair, skin, clothes and even finger nails, and has long been used as a treatment for sunburn, for its astringent qualities and also as a sedative.
The art of Henna has been practised for thousands of years in the countries mentioned above but in the last 5 years there has been a surge of interest from Western countries. It is now widely accepted as an art in self expression and individuality.
There is evidence of tattooing dating right back over 5000 years and the Egyptians were the culture that totally embraced it. They were probably the vainest of cultures when it came to beauty and personal hygiene. Henna was used in many ways to stain hands, hair and nails.
Henna is a life giving and therapeutic experience for anyone who wants to get in touch with their inner self. It has a history of spirituality and is linked with marriage, birth and death, and is probably the oldest art form known to man.
There is something deeply satisfying for an Indian Bride to have her hands and feet painted on the day before her wedding with beautiful intricate Menhdi designs. She is revered by the wedding party and henna is used as a means of idolising her. She is not allowed to do any work before or after her wedding until all the stain has disappeared.
Using henna for many women in poor countries was an inexpensive way of adorning herself and becoming exotic, to set herself apart from others. To paint ones friends was also very popular and the ritual that went with it drew you closer to them.
In the Middle East it is said that Arabs will not present their hand for henna if they are not speaking the truth and it is generally brides who are painted. Henna is known as a symbol of good luck in countries such as Turkey, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
In Morrocco there are unique designs used for many different things. Pregnant women have designs painted on their ankles to protect them throughout childbirth and designs are passed down within the families, secret styles being kept in families for generations.
African designs have a geometry to them that is quite distinct and are less intricate than the very ornate and floral Indian or mehndi designs.
Celtic Art has beautiful intricate knots and animal designs that are more complicated to do in henna but can be mastered. Celtic designs are very spiritual and magical and have many deep meanings to many anglo Saxons.
Japanese and Chinese Art is used by western countries practising henna bodyart and the Japanese symbols are probably some of the most in demand designs for henna. The yin yang sign and all its variations is also very popular. Henna influences reach far and wide and never more so than in the fashion fields. Look at all the crazy designs of designers in the late sixties and early seventies such as Ossie Clarke and Zandra Rhodes. Their flamboyant textile designs are making a huge comeback on the catwalks today and the new 'hippy chic' looks that incorporate not only henna body art but rich textile designs pulled from many cultures... menhdi designs in particular... show that henna bodyart is not dead!
Many professional henna artists today work from designs pulled from all these cultures and infuse their work with a modern slant of their own.