Pick up a supply kit, then get creative at home and make henna art.
The word henna is from Arabic–Al-Hinna. The earliest written evidence of henna being used as an adornment for a bride is in 2100 BCE from northwest Syria. Henna decorating is practiced in Northern Africa, the Middle East, Southern Asia, and Europe, and has been used by most religions.
Henna is made from a plant that grows in hot climates called Lawsonia inermis. The leaves, flowers and the twigs of the plant are ground into fine powder containing natural dying properties called tannins. The powder is then mixed with hot water to make a thick paste. The reddish brown stain is most often used to decorate the skin of hands and feet, but is also used to dye nails, clothes and hair as well.
Designs vary from region to region and have different meanings for each culture. Meanings include good health, fertility, wisdom, protection and spiritual enlightenment. The most popular traditional use is tied closely with weddings and bridal preparation and these designs tend to be the most ornate. Depending on the culture, men may use it as well as women, usually for more symbolic purposes.
African henna patterns vary greatly depending on the region. Sometimes they include geometric shapes and abstract symbols.
Arabic henna designs are abstract and less dense with designs featuring graceful, usually large, floral and vine patterns on the hands and feet.
Indian mehndi involves fine, thin lines for lacy, floral, paisley patterns with lines and dots. Dense patterns cover entire hands, forearms, feet and shins.
- Paisley designs – possibly the most common type of henna tattoo design, these symbolize luck and fertility
- Sahasrara – the crown chakra in Hindu tradition, it’s a lotus-like flower with hundreds of petals, traditionally arranged in 20 layers. It symbolizes purity and the unity of one’s soul with the divine
- Birds – in general, birds are believed to be messengers between heaven and earth. Specific types of bird can have their own symbolic meanings in henna designs – for instance, a swan symbolizes success, while a peacock is associated with beauty
- Floral designs – flowers in henna represent happiness and joy. Vines and leaves, common choices for wedding henna tattoos, are symbolic of devotion and vitality
- Dragonflies and butterflies – both of these elements symbolize change and rebirth in henna designs
- Reptiles – snakes and lizards are both associated with seeking enlightenment
- Eyes – in henna practices, an eye is most commonly a symbol of protection
MAKE YOUR OWN HENNA ART
Use your art supplies to draw your own designs. You’ll find some ideas below!
Fill in the stencil spaces with bright colors. Or fill the paper with a rainbow of colors and then use a dark pen or pencil to draw the stencil designs over the top of the colors.
Relax by filling in the coloring pages in your kit with markers and colored pencils. Need something to do with the finished pages? Find ideas below.