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Painting in Body Art
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Unlike other forms like tattoos, where they are a permanent form of body art, body painting is temporary, painted onto the human skin, and lasts for only several hours, or at most a couple of weeks. Body painting also includes face painting, mehendi or henna tattoos.
Body painting can transform a person into a spirit, a work of art, another gender or even a map of a sacred place. It can emphasize visual appeal, express allegiance or provide a protective and empowering coating. Protective body paints often feature in initiation rituals, weddings and funerals -- all occasions of transition and of spiritual danger. People everywhere adorn the living, and some also treat the dead, with body paint. In the earlier times body paint, was made with pigments composed of plant extracts or mineral clays and they were mixed with vegetable oil or animal fat.
Throughout history, the substances used for body paint have been important trade items. Ochre, camwood, cinnebar, and kaolin were traded throughout Asia, Africa and Europe for using it as body paints. Body painting with clay and other natural pigments existed in most, of the tribalist cultures, often worn during ceremonies; it still survives in this ancient form among the indigenous people of Australia, the Pacific Islands and parts of Africa. Face painting also is an artistic application of paint to a person`s face. From ancient times, it has been used for hunting, religious reasons and military reasons (such as camouflage and membership in a military unit).
However, in India, the body painting is synonymous with the word `Mehndi` or `Henna`. Mehndi, a semi-permanent form of body painting used as a temporary skin dye, was widely traded in the Muslim world in order to create intricate traditional or contemporary designs along with exotic patterns on the body during the traditional ceremonies like weddings. Henna was and is still practised in India and the Middle East, especially on brides.
Since the late 1990s, Mehndi has become popular amongst young women in the Western world. Actors and clowns around the world have painted their faces and sometimes bodies for centuries, and continue to do so today. More subdued form of face paints for everyday occasions evolve into the cosmetics we know today. First, only the women donned it; but since, it is temporary and completely painless men are also finding it a better alternative to the permanent tattoos. However, for Mehndi, care should be taken to use only natural brown henna dyes since they are the safest; however, synthetic black dyes can cause serious skin allergies, and they require patch tests before the actual paintings commence.
Modern Body Painting
There has been a revival of body painting in the Western society since the 1960s, and even today there is a constant debate about the legitimacy of body painting as an art form. In the earlier times, body painting was always considered as a taboo since, it involved painting on the nude bodies. However, body painting is not always full nude bodies, but it includes smaller designs on one area of the body.
Apart from body painting, the art of face painting is also in vogue nowadays. Especially in modern times, it is a common entertainment at county fairs, large open-air markets and other locations where children and adolescents stay. Face painting is very popular among children at theme parks, parties and festivals throughout the Western world and this concept is started even in India. Though the majority of face painting is geared towards children, many teenagers and adults enjoy being painted for special events. These modern face and body paints are made according to stringent guidelines, meaning these are non-toxic, non-allergenic, and can easily be washed away. These are either applied with hands, paint brush, and natural sea sponge, or alternatively with an airbrush.
There are two basic kinds of face paints.
Designs that include the emblems of favorite sports teams, cartoon characters and other designs that are "cute" or otherwise appealing to the young.
Designs that endeavor to color the face in such a way to indicate solidarity with a cause, usually the outcome of a sporting contest or membership in a group.
Most theme parks have booths scattered around where a person can have a design painted on their face. A similar activity is the application of "instant tattoos", which are paint or ink-based designs that are put on as one unit and removed by means of water, alcohol, soap, or another mild solvent.
Whatever the type of body paint should the skin show any sign of allergy, one should immediately cease using it. Moreover, it should not be applied onto open wounds, nor should it be applied too close to the eyes. It is not advisable to use paints or products, which have not been formulated for use on the body as these can result in serious allergic reactions.