What is Henna?
Also known as hina, henna tree, mignonette tree and Egyptian privet, henna is a flowering plant that grows 12-15 feet high. The boldly fragrant flowers are used to create perfume and more commonly to prepare a dye for multiple purposes. Henna dye has been used for centuries to dye skin, hair, and fingernails, as well as fabrics including silk, wool, and leather.
Some existing documentation implies that the art of henna is over 9000 years old, however the origins of this intriguing practice is hard to track with centuries of migration and cultural interaction that makes it hard to comprehend when the actual tradition began. In India the art of applying henna (called Mehndi in Hindi & Urdu) is believed by some to have originated in ancient times as as ceremonial art form, yet others speculate that it has only been introduced in the 12th century.
For centuries, henna has been used for cosmetic and natural healing traits such as its cooling properties used by the people of the desert. It is also said that Cleopatra herself used the dye to decorate her body and that ancient Egyptians used it to paint the fingers and toes of Pharaohs before they were mummified and buried.
As the art has spanned different cultures throughout the years, the designs and symbols vary from region to region and carry different meanings in different cultures. In India, the art is characterized by thin lines and lacy, floral patterns applied on hands, forearms and feet.
Henna can be used for many reasons including: self-expression, celebration of special occasions, inspiration, beauty; medicinal uses and blessings.
The most popular of the traditions is the Mehndi Night, where the bride, her family, relatives and friends get together to take part in festivities to celebrate the wedding to come. On the night, the bride receives extensive henna patterns on her body sometimes created by more than one artist. Tradition holds that the darker the stains on the bride’s body – the better the marriage and the mother-in-law will be.
Today, people all over the world have adopted the ancient traditions of decorating their bodies with the beautiful natural artwork created with the henna dye. It became a very popular form of temporary body decoration in the 90’s in the US and has become a growing trend ever since.
Click on the poster below for more information & come down to Robert Gordon University TODAY to get a beautiful henna design or treat yourself to a hair wrap – all just for pennies and for a good cause!