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Henna is used in Morocco to dye the skin in intricate patterns, sometimes called temporary tattoos. Henna is an integral part of many celebrations in Morocco and it is quite common to see henna on women's hands and feet for weddings and special occasions. Although the use of henna at weddings is well known, it is also commonly used with the ceremonies for Id al-Adha and male circumcision.
The anthropologist, Catherine Cartwright-Jones, points out that "the designs are often variants on the traditional North African "Khamsa” pattern: a cross with four dots surrounding; a square, circle or diamond shape with one dot within and four surrounding; hand shapes, and variations on these. People applied henna and the “Khamsa” patterns to avert the “Evil Eye”.
For visitors it is a popular experience to have henna applied, particularly for women.
It is also possible to buy henna patterns so that you can apply henna once you return home. The best place to buy henna and henna patterns is in the Henna Souq off the Tala'a Kbira
The application of henna is time consuming and you should expect to spend at least an hour for the artist to complete the design. Then it is time to wrap the hands gently in cotton cloth in order to protect them from damage during the drying period. The longer the hands are protected the better.
The design will normally last for a couple of weeks or more, with the palms usually lasting the longest.
According to Wikipedia: the different words for henna in ancient languages imply that henna had more than one point of discovery and origin, and different pathways of daily and ceremonial use.
The word henna is an all encompassing word referring to each phase of henna usage. Henna is the common name of the plant Lawsonia inermis. Henna also refers to the powder made from the dried crushed leaves of the plant, the resulting paste made from the powder, the art designs, the painted paste design on one’s skin, and finally the resulting stain on one’s skin.
The henna plant is indigenous to northern Africa and southern Asia though, predominantly cultivate in Rajasthan, India. Henna has been used by humans for thousands of years medicinally, as a dye of the skin, hair, nails, and in textiles. Henna is typically applied to the skin as a blessing, for luck, and beautification and is typically part of celebrations in many cultures.
I use only 100% natural ingredients in my henna paste recipe including lemon juice, cajuput, clove, lavender, eucalyptus, and tea tree essential oils. I use only the freshest, high potency henna powder available with organic ingredients when possible.
Note: Only lavender oil and lemon juice is added to henna powder in my prenatal formula!
Note: I do not use “black henna” and warn against its use as it is a toxic substance that can have serious health implications and lead to scarring. “Black henna” is actually hair dye and is not intended for topical use.