Henna is the adornment of choice for those afraid of commitment on their bodies [rather than in their relationships, considering it is also worn by brides and in preparation for weddings].
Despite lasting longer than my data; henna is a temporary form of adornment. It fades gradually until the only colour you’re left with on your hand is from melanin.
Henna, or mendhi (depending on where you’re from) is the crux of many cultural events across the world. Henna, unlike fynbos or Cuban cigars, is not exclusive to one geographic region. I have heard from some that it originated in Ancient Egypt though.
Henna comes from a plant which is ground and then made into a paste. This paste is then applied to the skin – which it proceeds to stain. Back in the day, Henna was green powder, that became orange on skin. Nowadays, you can waltz into a store and buy a cone that can take on any colour. Black, red and brown are colours I spot on palms and hands alike in South Africa. Hey, they don’t call us ‘Rainbow Nation’ for nothing!
I had the opportunity to have my henna/mendhi done by Mishka Suleman, a Jill of all trades extraordinaire. She is a graphic designer by day and make-up and mendhi artist by night. She sat with her cone in hand and an image in her mind. It amazes me that she doesn’t look at photographs for reference, but draws free hand.
As I watch the colour deepen on my wrist, I am reminded of the beauty of the female body. The same tube of henna can be a source of empowerment as a job, symbol of joy and renewal for a bride, a picture of celebration for those participating in a religious festival. The same cone of henna will flower to a different shade on a different arm depending on skin tone and body chemistry.