The History of Henna

2011 Jun 15 - by Preeti
Mehndi - who doesn't love it?! If you don't know much about mehndi (aka henna), it is a plant that originates in the Middle East. The plant is ground up into a fine green powder. Mixed with water and lemon juice (or oil), the paste is applied in a cone, with a toothpick, or even by hand onto a women's hands.

The great part about mehndi is that it is not permanent; it is not a tattoo. Mehndi is good for the skin and rarely causes skin allergies. Though if you do have skin problems, test a small part of your skin before applying everywhere!

As a warning, some people put toxic dyes like p-Phenylenediamine (PPD) which causes the henna to become black. The synthetic dye is known to cause severe allergic reactions therefore make sure you ask about the henna. It is stupid that people can put toxic chemicals in henna but it happens.

Now that you are scared by a bunch of morons tainting henna, you should know that mehndi is one of the most sensual decorations for a women. Brides and girlfriends apply henna to be more alluring. Mehndi is also one of the solah shringar.

Anyway, enough talking. Here's the history of mehndi:

4000 BC - Women painted their hands with henna in central Turkey

3400 BC - Egyptians first used henna on women's hands but also to dye graying hair.

2800 BC - While nail painting was becoming popular in China and Japan, in the Middle East and Northern Africa, women used henna to color both fingers and fingernails.

2100 BC - The epic Ugaritic poem of Baal and Anath depicted women using henna by the Babylonian and Sumerian civilizations. Brides decorated their hands with henna before meeting their husbands, and Anath adorned her hands with henna before avenging Baal’s murder.

1500 BC - The Ebers Papayrus medical document in Egypt describes how henna (and 400 other plants) were used to treat ailments at the time.

1000 BC - Sephardic Jews used henna during the holiday Purim.

30 BC - Cleopatra used henna for her hands and lips.

1200 AD - Mehndi arrives in India by ways of the Mughal invasion. They bring with them the artistic designs and traditions Muslim brides had.

1526 AD - In Spain, henna came under persecution. In an edict issued in Granada in 1526 by the Roman Catholic Church, the decorating of fingernails with henna was banned due to the anti-Muslim and anti-Jewish movement.

Today - Popular in many countries and most common in Hindu and Muslim weddings but anyone can have henna done at anytime!