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Henna: Patterns Woven Through Time

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In Morocco, there is a ritual over 5,000 years old: the art of Henna, or body painting. Henna is similar to a tattoo, but is not permanent. Henna art is both painless and safe and will fade in less than four weeks. The history of henna is rich and far-reaching.

Woman applying henna
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Henna is a small shrub called hawsonia inermis, and is also known as Henne, Al-Khanna, Al-henna, Jamaica Mignonette, Mendee, Mehndi, Egyptian Privet, and Smooth Lawsonia. It grows in the tropical climates of Africa and Asia. The leaves are dried and crushed into a powder. By mixing the powder with eucalyptus oil and lemon juice you get a paste which is put onto the skin.

Traditional henna designs for a Moroccan Tsul wedding
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Arabic henna uses large designs with floral patterns on the hands and feet. Indian mehndi uses thin lines of lacy, floral patterns on the entire hands, forearms, feet and shins. African henna has large, bold designs and patterns. Designs have different meanings for each culture.

In Morocco, difficult designs are used for special occasions. Weddings, the birth of a child, festivals, and feast days call for more intricate designs. Henna art is an important part of Moroccan tradition and culture.

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