As a cultural landmark, henna and henna designs go back all the way down nearly five thousand years ago in history. Since then, henna played an important part in most Asian cultures in festivals, religion rites, weddings, and other significant cultural events.
Today, aside from their use in these contexts, the wearing of henna patterns by modern women is more in step with the current fashion. (Women from all over the world might have picked up the signal when singer Madonna once wore henna design in one MTV of her recent song.)
The henna plant had been used since the olden days as a traditional dye for skin, hair, nails leather and wool. The leaves are made into a paste with other additions (tea, oil, lemon, etc.) to heighten the color or make it longer lasting. Later, the art evolved into the people’s culture.
Henna designs (termed ‘mehndi’ in India) have their own meanings in many cultures. Particular patterns stand for good health, fertility, spiritual enlightenment, wisdom and protection from evil.
In Indian weddings (and many other Asian marriages as well), these elaborate patterns of henna applied on hands and feet of the bride connote special meanings.(Darker colors are thought to mean a successful marriage.)
Those that are drawn on the hands, feet and body of a mother at childbirth events or on brides during bridal showers are all meant for protection. These symbols have been used for centuries, their meanings still intact. These patterns include flowers, flowery trails, chains, plant leaves and other intricate curls embellished with traditional details.
Henna designs are different from one culture to another and their significance and meanings are different as well. The countries that rank henna a special place in their culture include India, Pakistan, Sudan, Morocco, Syria, Egypt Persia (Iran), and Malaysia.
For one, the patterns in Arabic are large floral motifs while those in Indian mehndi has fine, lacy designs of flowers and paisley that covers not just the hands but also the forearms. The intricate combination makes it look gorgeous. By the looks of it, wearing henna designs fashionably might be with us for a long while.
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Parent page: Henna Designs
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