Camera info: Canon Rebel 350D • lens 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
ISO 800 • f 5.6 • 1/100 sec
Mehndi, or henna tattoos, are a safe, temporary alternative to the kind parents dread their kids getting. They are made by using a plant paste to draw on the skin. The paste is made of ground-up henna leaves and a sugar-based mixture. When it is left on your skin for a few hours, it stains the top layers of skin cells a dark brown color. The effect lasts anywhere from a couple days to over a week, depending on the location of the tattoo and how often you wash it. Then you can do it all over again! 🙂 The same paste can also be used as a hair dye, but I don’t think that’s nearly as fun as drawing a mustache on your sleeping friend.
I first learned to do henna designs on a trip to India. Now, I like to use the art to give my friends a taste of world culture. This week, I did a birthday party where I decorated girls’ hands and feet with butterflies and flowers. I’ve also drawn guitars and dragons for guys. Aside from special events, I enjoy seeing how henna is used culturally. Many of the symbols used in the designs have deep meanings in other cultures. Some pregnant women decorate their bellies for good luck. Most Indian women get covered in intricate designs before their weddings. I heard somewhere of a tradition that a new bride will get her husband’s name hidden in the henna designs on her body. After the wedding, he has to go find it. Scandalous! 😯
You can find tubes of henna paste at most international grocery stores, so why not give it a try? I like to draw mine in the evenings and keep them on overnight so they will turn out darker. You can use a mixture of lemon juice and sugar on top of dry henna to keep it from flaking off as fast. Just be careful not to let it stain your clothes!
Have you ever gotten a henna tattoo? What designs are/were your favorite?