Centuries of migration and cultural interaction make the task of determining henna’s exact origin a complex one. However, historians argue that henna has been used for at least 5,000 years in both cosmetic and healing capacities.
Research suggests that henna was used in Pakistan, India, Africa and the Middle East.
Because henna has natural cooling properties, people of the desert, for centuries, have been using henna to cool down their bodies. They make a paste of henna and soak their palms and soles of the feet in it. They feel its cooling sensation throughout the body for as long as the henna stain remains on their skin. Initially, as the stain faded away, it left patterns on the skin surface which led to ideas to make designs for decorative purposes.
In the ancient Egyptian times henna was used to stain the fingers and toes of the Pharaohs prior to mummification. It is also documented that Cleopatra herself used henna for decorative purposes.
Henna was not only a popular adornment for the rich but the poor, who could not afford jewelry, used it to decorate their bodies as well.
The art form of henna (Arabic) or mehndi (Hindi) varies from region to region. Varying designs have a different meaning for members of each culture, such as good health, fertility, wisdom, protection and spiritual enlightenment. While Arabic henna designs are usually large, floral patterns on the hands and feet, Indian mehndi involves fine, thin lines for lacy, floral and paisley patterns covering entire hands, forearms, feet and shins.
More recently this form of body art has become popular with people all over the world, and henna is also widely used as a hair dye. If you would like to find out more about henna or order some to try for yourself then please contact Hennacat.