For centuries, Berber women have coated their hands with henna, a marker for festive moments that are both traditional and religious. It is a symbol of inescapable embellishment that popular common sense likes to recall in the form of a well-known saying: “Put on henna, and God will have mercy on you“.
My story with henna
As a child, I always loved to sit for hours with my mom and aunts and put henna on my hands.
It is a privileged moment, where I take care of myself in particular of my feet and my hands (Polishing feet with a traditional pumice stone, filing nails, doing a coffee scrub with olive oil on the feet and hands as well as a few drops of argan oil).
I like this moment, not because you can’t eat alone and you have a spoon in your mouth, but because it’s a moment of joy and mirth. The fact that the tattoo is exposed through the passage of the needle on the skin is so satisfying and it smells very good.
I really enjoy it, whatever what it looks like , whether it’s by plunging my hands into it and covering it all with a sheet or a plastic bag like older women do, or put some scotch, or asking a “tanekacht” to make Sahraoui patterns for me for around 100 dirham.
Where is it from ?
“Natural” henna is a cosmetic of plant origin, marketed in the form of powder to be diluted and obtained after drying and grinding the leaves of a plant originally cultivated in Iran and Mesopotamia, Lawsonia inermis. To grow ideally, henna needs temperatures between 35 ° C and 45 ° C.
The city of Ouarzazate is renowned for the quality of its henna, that of Tazarine in this case. It’s a city that is also full of experienced and talented tattoo artists.
For who and how?
- Unmarried girls don’t get it on their feet.
- Men do not put it, or just a small circle in the palm of their hand during their engagement.
- Older women generally do not make a pattern and prefer to have their hands completely covered with henna, she keeps it for as long as possible to have it “black”.
- Sahrawi motifs are often requested by women, young girls generally ask for Indian or very floral motifs.
How to make a henna tattoo?
Berber women mix the dried and powdered leaves with hot water and lemon, orange blossom or rose water juice, thus obtaining a smooth and fragrant paste that they apply.
She also puts in what’s called “dunya” which helps speed up the color process, but it’s chemical and itchy, I don’t recommend it.
To accelerate the process naturally, in a bowl put lemon juice and apply it with a cotton ball on the henna, guaranteed effect.
How long does it take ?
- Between 1 and 5 hours before wash it.
- It stays on the hand for about 2 weeks .