For over 5,000 years, the people of Africa, Middle East and India have practiced the beautiful and mysterious art of painting on the body with preparations using the henna plant. This artform is called henna art and sometimes referred to as Mehndi, in India.
The henna plant is thought to come from Egypt where it was called Egyptian Privet. Later henna was brought to India as a state gift from the Egyptians. Queen Mumtaz who ruled in the 1600’s was the first Indian queen to be decorated with henna. Today, it is common to find artists practicing their henna crafts outside the Taj Mahal, which was built to honor Queen Mumtaz. Traces of henna have been found on mummies from 1200 BC. It is also known that Pharoahs hands and feet were first dipped in henna prior to mummification.
Traditionally, henna and the Mehndi artform is an important part of wedding ceremonies. The hands and feet of the bride are decorated by professional henna artists, called Hannayas or Naqashas in Morocco. The intricate and beautiful designs cover her hands and feet in a lacy manner. It is common belief that henna brings good luck. Ornementing the bride’s hands and feet with henna is believed to bring love, health, prosperity, safety in childbirth, protection from harmful spirits and assure happiness in death as well.
Henna tattooing is the hottest trend to come from the East. Its popularity exploded in 1998 in New York city, and is fast becoming the most sought after, fascinating beauty creations in North America. Many celebrities have been proud to show their henna tattoos in public, on the big screen, and in music videos.