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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Little About Henna

Henna is from the flowering plant Lawsonia inermis. Henna is known as many names and is mainly found in North Africa, Egypt, India, Pakistan and Middle East.

Dried ground, sifted henna leaves are easily worked into a paste that can be used to make intricate body art. The henna mix must rest for 6 to 12 hours so the leaf able to dark stain the skin. Though henna's colour will stain the skin with in minutes, the longer the paste is left on the skin more colour will migrate. Henna paste will yield as much dye as the skin can easily absorb in less than eight hours. Henna tends to crack and fall off the skin during these hours, so it is often sealed down by dabbing a sugar/lemon mix over the dried paste, or simply adding some form of sugar to the paste. This also adds to the colour of the end result, increasing the intensity of the shade.
When the paste has fallen off the skin or been removed by scarping, the stain will be orange, but should darken over the following three days to a reddish brown. Soles and palms have the thickest layer of skin and so they absorb the most colour, so they are the darkest and most long-lasting stains. Steaming or warming the henna pattern will darken the stain, either during the time the paste is still on the skin or after the paste has been removed.
Water and soaps may spoil the darkening process. After the stain reaches its peak colour it will appear to fade. The henna stain is not actually fading, the skin is exfoliating the lower, less stained cells, rise to the surface, until all stained cells are shed.
Henna has been used to adore young women's bodies as part of social and holiday celebrations since the late Bronze Age in the eastern Mediterranean. The early connection between young women and henna seems to be the origin of the Night of the Henna (Girls bachelor party), which is now celebrated world-wide.
The Night of the Henna was celebrated by most groups in the areas where henna grew naturally: Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Christians and Zoroastrians, among others all celebrated marriages by adorning the bride, and often the groom with henna. The use of henna by the Prophet Mohammed insured its place in history and its popularity and acceptance among the Muslim people.

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