Saturday, May 16, 2009

Temporaray Tatoos

Adorning the hands and feet of this Bishnois woman from Rajasthan is mehendi - the decorative skin art using henna. This plant-based dye is placed in a tube and squeezed out to draw the lines, much like the process of decorating a cake. The hands and feet are the most common places of application, as the keratin here bonds better with the henna, resulting in a darker design. To ensure longer-lasting mehendi (between 2 weeks and a month), the decorated appendage can be covered in a plastic bag for several hours or overnight. When my friends and I had ours done in Rajasthan, we simply waited for the paste to dry completely and then carefully rubbed off the raised paste. In India, mehendi is a common ornamentation, particularly for weddings. The intricate flowing work is another example of Indian art that is beautiful, but temporary.

Mehendi is common in Islamic countries as well. When I was in Mali and Tunisia, mehendi was also a part of special events. It is speculated that mehendi originated in India, while others think it might have started in Egypt, where some mummies still bear their temporary tatoos.

1 comment:

Bibi said...

I love the tootsies! I saw a lady who had lost her hair due to chemo who had henna-ed her head with an elaborate pattern.