Mehndi: The Art of Henna Body Painting

Mehndi: The Art of Henna Body Painting
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Cat #: BK-BOOK

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About Mehndi: The Art of Henna Body Painting

Back with Henna Tattoo

The first published book on mehndi in the U.S was written by author Carine Fabius, creator of Earth Henna body painting kits. This book comes with dozens of practice exercises and sample illustrations. Inside you will find:

  • Step-by-step instructions on how to apply your mehndi designs
  • Tips from professional mehndi artists
  • History of the art form and a discussion of the traditional uses of the henna plant
  • 140 beautiful photographs and illustrations

See excerpts from the book.

Paperback: 112 pages
Publisher: Three Rivers Press (June 1, 1998)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0609803190
ISBN-13: 978-0609803196
Dimensions: 0.3″ × 5″ × 7.4″


Excerpts from the Book

History

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Henna has been used throughout Africa, India, and the Middle East for thousands of years.

For centuries, mehndi — the art of henna painting on the body — has been practiced in India, Africa, and the Middle East, where the henna plant is believed to bring love and good fortune, and to protect against evil. Mehndi is traditionally practiced for wedding ceremonies, during important rites of passage, and in times of joyous celebration. A paste made from the crushed leaves of the henna plant is applied to the skin, and when removed several hours later, leaves beautiful markings on the skin that fade naturally over 1 to 3 weeks.

Henna Use in the Past

Besides being the key ingredient in mehndi, henna has also been used to dye the manes and hooves of horses, and to color wool, silk, and animal skins, as well as men's beards. Studies of mummies dating back to 1200 BC show that henna was used on the hair and nails of the pharaohs.

Henna Today

Until the art of mehndi became hot news in 1996, henna was mostly used in the United States as a hair dye. Widely recognized now as a wonderful way to dye the skin and to achieve the look of a tattoo, traditional henna uses and application processes have gone contemporary. Although some will always prepare their own henna paste, mehndi kits of varying quality, with foolproof instructions and convenient stencils, can be purchased in many retail and online outlets (including this Web site).

Geography

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Green portions of this map show areas where henna has been used traditionally for thousands of years for ceremonies and personal adornment.

Practiced for five thousand years throughout India, Africa, and the Middle East, the act of painting the body with preparations made from the crushed leaves of the henna plant, whether it be in preparation for a special occasion or in celebration of a particular event, has always been done with the assumption or fervent wish that the act would engender good fortune, happy results, and good feelings.

Mehndi in India

In the north and western parts of India, the desert areas where the henna plant grows, mehndi (or henna painting) is a very important part of the wedding ritual and ceremony. As the story goes, the deeper the color obtained on the skin, the longer the love between the couple will last; hence the belief that a proper mehndi application is tantamount to a prayer to the gods for everlasting love and a successful marriage.

Mehndi in Morocco

Pregnant Moroccan women in their seventh month seek out well-respected henna practitioners called hannayas in order to have certain symbols painted on their ankle, which will then be encircled with a corresponding amulet. The henna and the amulet are meant to protect both the mother and child through birth.

Once the baby is born and the umbilical cord severed, a plaster of henna, water, and flour is placed on the newborn's belly button in order to ensure beauty and wealth.

Botany

henna plant

Click on the image above to view the "Morocco Gallery": a series of photographs showing the areas in North Africa where we have been buying our all-natural, high-quality henna powder from the same farmer since 1998.

The botanical name of the henna plant is Lawsonia inermis. A member of the Loosestrife family, henna originally comes from Egypt, a country that is still one of the main suppliers of the plant (along with India, Morocco, and the Sudan).

Appearance of Henna

Those who have already come into contact with powdered henna are familiar with its undeniably special smell, a powerful and heady combination of earth, clay, chalk, and damp green leaves. In contrast, fresh henna leaves have no odor whatsoever, even when crushed between the fingers.

The henna flower is delicate, petite, and four-petaled, with a profusion of slender and elongated antennas bursting from the center. The red, rose, and white variations of the blossom, which also blooms yellow, cream, and pink, emit a sweet and seductive scent reminiscent of jasmine, rose, and mignonette; hence the name Jamaica Mignonette, as henna is referred to in the West Indies.

Although the plant's primary uses lie elsewhere, the flower's oil has been used as a perfume for many centuries (although its fragrant secret has yet to be popularized in the West).

Properties of Henna

In addition to its cooling properties, several other medicinal properties are attributed to henna. It is used as a coagulant for open wounds; and a poultice made with henna leaves works to soothe burns and certain types of eczema.

Its inherent soothing qualities are also part of the reason why mehndi is traditionally performed on the palms of the hands. Since the palm contains numerous nerve endings, when henna is applied to the area it helps to relax the system.

Finally, henna mixed with vinegar and applied to the head is reputed to heal headaches. Aspirin, move over!

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Product Reviews

Customer Reviewsorder by helpfulness · score · date  
Sorted by how helpful a review is with the most helpful at the top.
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Rated 5 Stars by M. Schulman

This review was written on Sun Sep 29, 2002 at 09:18:23 am
This book has good information for those who want to learn about mehndi. The pictures and illustrations are clear. We haven't tried their version of the recipe (for the paste). (more)

Rated 4 Stars by J. Gravel

This review was written on Sun Feb 23, 2003 at 08:18:23 am
A few years ago, I had a dragon painted on my arm in henna, and after seeing this book in a shop, I thought it'd be interesting to learn more (more)

Rated 4 Stars by G. Lopez de Dennis

This review was written on Mon Apr 21, 2008 at 09:18:23 am
This is a very nice little book, quite primitive but very sweet in its style and explanation of the process and design. There are some interesting photos of different designs (more)

Rated 5 Stars by M. elliott

This review was written on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 09:18:23 am
This is a great book, especially for the beginner. It teaches you much about the history and uses of mehndi. It's a very interesting book, for both beginners and people (more)

Rated 5 Stars by A. Olson

This review was written on Fri Dec 30, 2011 at 08:18:23 am
So I absolutely love the art of henna painting, and the beautiful designs that one can create with it.

I also really enjoy learning about the history of it's use,
(more)

Rated 5 Stars by S. reynolds

This review was written on Mon Aug 17, 1998 at 09:18:23 am
Although I already have the spectacular book Mehndi: The Timeless Art of Henna Painting by Loretta Roome, Carine Fabius' MEHNDI is another must have book. She explains where henna is (more)

Rated 5 Stars by D. DiLaura

This review was written on Tue Jun 09, 1998 at 09:18:23 am
I have just finished this most amazing book! Out of all of the literature about this mystical practice, this book covers EVERYTHING you could possibly want or need to know (more)

Rated 5 Stars by G. Barrois

This review was written on Sat Mar 20, 1999 at 08:18:23 am
I loved the book. It gave you step by step instructions and simple exercises to create your own designs.

Rated 5 Stars by C. molina

This review was written on Mon Jan 24, 2000 at 08:18:23 am
I recommend this as a first book for any beginner Mehndi reader. This book allows you to decide how far you want to go with Mehndi. The book is quick (more)

Rated 5 Stars by E. Thorne

This review was written on Thu Jun 20, 2002 at 09:18:23 am
For anyone who has experimented in henna before, this book just re-teaches the basics. It has a very good and helpful section on the history of henna, some things I'd (more)

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