Brief history of henna body art

Henna has a long history as decoration for the bodies of women and girls for social and celebratory reasons including:

  • In the the Ugaritic legend of Baal and Anath, (Doumas, 1992) references are made to women using henna in preparation to meet their husbands, and Anath adorning herself with henna to celebrate a victory over the enemies of Baal.
  • Wall paintings excavated at Akrotiri (dating prior to the eruption of Thera in 1680¬†BCE) show women with markings consistent with henna on their nails, palms and soles (Doumas, 1992)
  • In one narration by Mohammed he encouraged Muslim women to dye their nails with henna so their hands can be distinguished as feminine & from the hands of a male. Hence you will see this tradition greatly in the Middle East and Africa where women apply henna to their finger and toe nails, as well as their hands.
  • The Night of the Henna celebrated by most religious groups including: Jews (Brauer and Patai, 1993),Muslims (Westermarck, 1972) Hindus, Christians and Zoroastrians.

Today, Purim (Brauer and Patai, 1993), Eid (Hammoudi, 1993), Diwali (Saksena), Karva Chauth, Passover, Nowruz and Mawlid are celebrated with some henna.

You can buy henna for body art from Hennacat

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