Used as a form of expression for centuries, man has tattooed his skin to signify life changing transitions, status and wealth and of course has used ink of many types to make a strike for individualism. Originally it was plant dyes that were used and above all of the products that were used there were two that rose to the fore as being excellent as skin staining pigmentations, one was indigo and the other Henna.
Derived from the plant Lawsonia Inermia henna is commonly found in regions of North Africa, Egypt, areas of the Middle East and of course India. The leaves of the plant are dried and ground up then mixed with carrier oil or binding agent to make excellent dyes in shades that vary from pale woody browns to the deepest, richest reds. Over the centuries a variety of uses have been found for henna. It has been found to be an excellent hair dye, nail tint, mild astringent and even has a use as a sedative. However it is better known for its prolific use in body art around the world.
Evidence of henna tattooing has been found to date back more than five thousand years. Henna tattooing was a practice that was thoroughly embraced by the ancient Egyptians. Having gained a reputation throughout history as being quite a vain culture, they found ways of using henna to enhance their natural features to make themselves more attractive. It was used to alter their hair colour, stain the skin and nails and mixed with other pigments to form designs for the body.
The process of receiving a henna tattoo is believed to have spiritual significance, connecting the body with the soul and the universal energies that surround it. For the Indian Bride however the process of receiving her henna tattoo’s or Mehndi show that she is to be idolised and revered. Once they are in place she is not permitted to take part in any work until the designs have disappeared from her skin.
In the poorer countries of the world henna was and is still used as a safe and inexpensive method of body adornment. Again in the Middle East it is brides who receive the delicate henna work on their skin and countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iraq consider the application of henna to provide good luck to its wearer.
Pregnant women in Morocco have henna designs pained around their ankles as forms of protection, with families having their own sacred designs that are passed down through the generations. The henna designs that are seen in Africa are more geometrical that designs seen elsewhere, nothing like the flowing ornate designs used in other cultures.
Though Celtic designs are quite complicated with intricate knot work they too can be perfected by a henna professional, and look stunning when completed. Modern artists draw on cultures from all over the world to provide the perfect henna tattoo for their clients adding a subtle twist of their own to make their designs truly unique.