Shapes from a Corner of the World

Athough cuisine, as I said in previous posts, is an easy way for elements of a culture to be included in another, it is not the only one. Henna body art is a thousand-year-old tradition. Evidence of its use as a cosmetic has been discovered on the hair and nails of ancient Egyptian mummies.

Henna (Lawsonia Inermis) is a woody shrub that thrives in hot and arid climates. Its leaves are harvested, dried, and then ground into a fine powder, which is made into a paste. It is then applied to the skin by means of a fine tipped applicator, and produces the mesmerizing patterns that have adorned the hands and feet of women from Africa, India, and the Middle East during celebrations for thousands of years.

In the 90’s, henna started getting bigger in the US, and its popularity has been growing ever since. Today, people all over the world have embraced the idea of temporarily decorating their bodies with beautiful and natural henna artwork. The drawings are different depending on the country whose tradition they are emulating. For example, Indian henna tattoos often include flowers, paisley, lotus and other organic shapes, whereas geometric prints and straight lines prevail in African henna tattoos.

The idea of this post, however, is to let you see for yourself. So what follows is a selection of henna-themed photographs for your enjoyment. If you want to know more about henna, this is a good place to start:

http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Mehndi

As  a very good book says, ‘art isn’t supposed to look nice; it’s supposed to make you feel something’. Keep that in mind.

-Blanca

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