Thursday, June 26, 2014

Henna Art from Around the World

Been listening to Rango, and their rendition of Henna Night is stuck in my head. :-) Hence the inspiration for this post:
henna-decorated foot in Morocco
henna-painted hands in India
Click thumbnails to view larger images on source pages.

Some African and Asian cultures that decorate brides (and, in some cases, grooms) with henna:

Region Description
West Africa Since antiquity, the Hausa, Fulani, Kanuri and ethnic groups of Northern Nigeria have decorated the hands and legs of brides with henna, known locally as lalle.1,2 In the Hausa kunshi - a women-only ceremony - older women adorn the bride and her friends with lalle.3 (Check out some pictures of modern brides with lalle.)

Traditionally, henna designs were applied using a resist technique, but in modern times, painted designs with Indian or Arab influences have also entered the Nigerian henna artist's repertoire.1,4 In additional to weddings, women also use henna for other festive occasions and as daily decoration.5
North Africa Pre-wedding henna parties is a bridal tradition among both Muslims and Jews in North Africa.6,7,8,9,10 In the Moroccan beberiska ceremony, the bride's hands and feet are adorned with floral and geometric patterns while her companions are painted with less elaborate designs.11 Check out this gallery of Moroccan-style henna tattoos on

In Libya, Mauritania and southern Morocco, henna dye can be applied using resist methods (covering parts of the skin with string or tape before applying henna).4,6,12 For Libyan brides, a simple design of stained soles and top halves of hands differentiates wedded women from unmarried women.6 Tunisian and Mauritanian grooms can also be hennaed. 10, 13

Henna painting is also used for the Muslim Id-al-Adha holiday in Morocco7 , Jewish healing ceremonies in Algeria8 and boys' life cycle events in both Muslim and Jewish communities.7,8
East AfricaSudanese, Somali and Swahili Muslim women put on henna adornments during pre-wedding bridal parties, religious holidays and festive occasions.14, 15, 16 Sudanese designs tend to be large and bold17 while Swahili henna patterns are a fusion of Arab and Indian influences.18 Click here to see a Swahili henna design on National Geographic.

Ethiopian and Eritrean brides are painted with henna on melsi, the second day of wedding celebrations.19 (View a picture of Ethiopian bridal henna on
West AsiaAttended only by women, Henna Night takes place on the eve of weddings in Turkey, Iran and Arab countries.20, 21, 22 Arab henna designs favor large, abstracted floral patterns. Click here to see an Omani bride's hennaed hands on National Geographic.

Iranian henna drawings may contain representations of sparrows, trees or flowers.21 Traditional Turkish bridal henna was simple - staining the palm, fingers and big toes, but modern brides may choose to have intricate Ottoman-inspired patterns drawn on their hands.20,24 Iranian bridegrooms and Kurdistani Jewish bridegrooms may also be stained with henna.21,25
South Asia In Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, a mehndi ceremony is held for the bride one or more days before the marriage.26, 27 South Asian henna decorations can be highly ornate, sometimes filling up the entire palm. Click here to see some Pakistani bridal mehndi designs.

In some parts of India, the groom is decorated with henna.26 Mehndi is also worn for festivals such as Eid and Diwali.26

  1. Nigeria: Beautifying With Henna -
  2. Henna decoration, lucrative in Kaduna, Sunday Trust
  3. Marriage And My Tradition: Taking A wife In Hausa land -
  4. Resist techniques -
  5. Fulani body adornment on
  6. Henna: Libyan Style
  7. Morocco Henna Traditions: Tattoos For Hands & Hair
  8. Jewish Henna Traditions in Algeria
  9. Jewish Henna Traditions in Tunisia
  10. Ancient Egyptian Beauty - Henna
  11. Wedding Customs - Age-old Marriage Traditions on
  12. Alluring Indigo on
  13. Henna - Body Art - Regions on wikipedia
  14. Sudanese Wedding Tradition 1 on
  15. Culture of Somaliland - Women on wikipedia
  16. Henna on
  17. Sudanese Henna - inside Sweetfern Studio
  18. From traditional Zanzibari henna painting on the body to henna painting on canvas
  19. The Melsi Tradition - Bella Bride Africa
  20. Turkish Wedding Henna -
  21. Hana-Bandan - Iranian Henna Bridal Party
  22. Laylat Al-Ghumra: A traditional bridal shower -
  23. The history of henna - All About Syria
  25. Jewish Henna Traditions among Kurdish Jews
  26. Mehndi on wikipedia
  27. Weddings in Afghanistan

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