When we mention body art the first thought that comes to mind is tattooing, but it has fierce competition in the form of Mehndi. Tattooing requires a lifelong commitment whereas mehndi is temporary and can be experimented with over and over again. It`s 100 % safe! And it is totally painless. Pain being is one of the greater concerns when one decides to tread into body art.
The art of Mehndi has existed for centuries. The exact place of its origin is difficult to track because of centuries of people in different cultures moving through the continents and taking their art forms with them and therefore sharing their art with everyone along the way. Henna Tattoo (Mehndi) is a long-lasting Body Art that has been a tradition in India, Pakistan, Morocco and other parts of Northern Africa for 5000 years.
In India the bride`s hand is adorned by intricate designs created by skillful mehndi artist. Which tell stories, on their Hands from entire baraats with the wedding couple, doli, kalash, baraatis, tabla players, elephants and peacocks. It is used at celebrations like weddings and other special occasions, which are traditionally associated with transcendence and transformation. It is traditional for the bride to get together with her friends and have them spend hours applying the henna to her skin and give her marriage advice in accordance to the event. The bride`s henna must be more beautiful and intricate than anyone else is of course since it is, after all, her special day!
Another interesting fact is that the bride has good reason to look after her henna for she is not expected to partake in housework until the henna is gone. Even with all her bridal finery she is incomplete without mehndi adorning her hands. It is considered auspicious, believed to bring luck and beauty and finally part of superstition, the darker the mehndi is, and the more the mother in law will love you.
From adorning the brides` hands, to being used to make hip tattoos on arms and bellies, Mehndi or Henna has gone international. Once a typically Indian custom and an indispensable part of a bride`s makeup, Mehndi has gone cosmopolitan thanks to the attention it gets through stars like Madonna, Demi Moore and many more.
The crushed henna leaves used for mehndi comes from a bush called Lawsonia Inermis, which is part of the loose strife family and is grown in the Sudan, Egypt, India, most of the North African counties, the Middle East and other hot and dry places. The bush is also grown in Florida and California for this ornamental appearance and often grows to be quite large, ranging from six to twenty feet in some cases. The lance-shaped leaves from the bush are harvested, dried and then crushed to make the henna powder. Henna is used for hair dye, as a skin conditioner and as a reliever for rashes.
The art of Mehndi is referred to as henna, mehndi or mehndi depending on where you are and which name you feel came first (or are most comfortable using). No matter what you call it though, the art form remains essentially the same, as it was centuries ago - Mystifying!
Henna is not only used in India but also the world over, the styles differing from each other, but as aesthetic and artistic as each other.
The Middle Eastern style is mostly made up of floral patterns similar to the Arabic textiles, paintings and carvings and does not usually follow a distinctive pattern.
The North African style generally follows the shape of the hands and feet using geometrical floral patterns.
The Indian and Pakistani designs encompass more than just the feet and hands and generally extend further up the appendages to give the illusion of gloves and stockings which are made up of lines, paisley patterns and teardrops.
Lastly, the Indonesian and Southern Asian styles were a mix of Middle Eastern and Indian designs using blocks of color on the very tips of their toes and fingers. All of these styles remain popular today but have also been joined in popularity by Celtic designs and Chinese symbols.
Though the styles are intimidating and difficult. It still remains of the most beautiful way of staining your body.