Traditionally, the art of henna application has been a predominantly female practice. This probably accounts for the lack of documented information regarding its historical use; it was not considered necessary for women to read or write in a lot of the regions where henna has long been popular until quite recently in historical terms. Instead, the local knowledge and skills required to carry out this traditional form of body art have been passed down from mother to daughter over time, for generations, going back far longer than anyone can remember.
To date, the oldest documented use of henna for cosmetic purposes comes from Ancient Egypt some 5000 years ago, where henna was used to decoratively stain the hands & feet (including nails) and to colour and condition the hair. Traces of henna have been found on the nails of mummified Pharaohs, and there is further evidence in illustrative form. It is widely thought that having hennaed hands and feet in Ancient Egypt signified prosperity and promoted well-being.
Since Ancient Egyptian times the use of henna as a cosmetic product has spread throughout the Eastern World. Traditionally, henna has also been used as a medicinal treatment for a wide range of ailments, including headaches & eczema. Though henna does contain antibacterial and cooling properties, today it is not the recommended ‘cure all’ that it once was!
Historically, across all of the Eastern regions where women have traditionally hennaed each other, the application is often strongly linked with ceremonial & celebrational occasions, like weddings and religious festivals. So henna has assumed an essential role in most Eastern households. Knowing no boundaries, at least twice a year, henna adorns the hands & feet of most women, princesses and housewives alike.
Halawa Henna began actively promoting Henna Body Art in the Western World back in 1993, you can now see the results across Europe, North America & Australia. Henna Body Art is here to stay, a new Western tradition of Henna Body Art has evolved, with new and exciting artwork running alongside traditional Eastern styles.
Henna Tattoos are now a well-established part of our Western Youth Culture. The new ‘Henna Tattoo’ design styles are now filtering back to the East, creating a renewed interest in an old traditional product in today’s Eastern Youth Culture – Henna Body Art goes full circle!