Spotlight on the beautiful arabesques of the henna tattoo, ancestral Moroccan tradition.
I wanted to try Morocco henna tattooing. The must be this girl I met on the terrace of a trendy cafe on the Corniche in Casablanca, with hands full of henna tattoos. These beautiful photos were online… In Casablanca, I know where to go. I often see these women, near the witch market. They draw beautiful arabesques at the hands of other women. But I don’t want to do just anything. A few things need to be clarified.
What is Morocco henna?
Originally, henna is a plant that grows in desert regions. In Morocco, it is mainly in the Azzemour region. From this plant, you can extract a powder. They mix it with a small bowl of water and a spoonful of lemon or orange blossom juice. Sometimes, they mix it with rose water or eucalyptus oil. It gives a paste that is slightly heated to fix its color. And that’s it! Henna paste, green in color, is a natural dye.
Sometimes, they add chemicals to make it black. Of course, you must absolutely avoid applying this paste on your skin: it can cause allergic reactions, even serious burns… I have read on forums many complaints from tourists after “natural black” henna tattoos.
What about the Morocco Henna Tattoo, how do you do it?
To draw on the skin these very varied patterns, a brush or a plastic cone can do the trick. But it is often a needleless syringe that is used. No incrustation under the skin! The henna tattoo in Morocco is in relation to Islam. It is because it is applied to the upper layer of the epidermis. Once applied, the design should dry for about an hour. Its color evolves gradually to finally take orange hues.
What is attractive is the painless and temporary nature of this tattoo. It only remains visible for two to three weeks. Nothing irremediable, therefore, if one quickly regrets his audacity.
Why do you get a henna tattoo in Morocco?
Henna is in most family celebrations and religious ceremonies. In this case, it is within the framework of the precise ritual and ancestral rules. The most common practice is the application of henna on the hands and feet of the bride during the wedding ceremony. One week before the religious wedding, during a women’s evening, the bride, dressing in green, a Nekacha tattoos her hands and feet. She prepares for her wedding night Veiled. Sitting on cushions embroidered with gold thread and accompanied by her bridesmaids.
The drawings of the henna tattoo are with symbolism. The Khamsa, or hand of Fatima, protects against the evil eye. The animals – ram, lizard, snake, or fish – are symbols of fertility, harmony, abundance, and serenity. Geometric patterns are also widely and each one has a meaning (fecundity, eternity, etc…), as do the numbers 3, 5, and 7. It is a message that the husband will be able to read in his wife’s hands.
At birth, a henna-based coating is applied to the baby’s navel to bring wealth and happiness. But also because henna is a good healing agent.
It is also prized in Morocco for its medicinal virtues. In cataplasm on the hair, it fortifies them. Applied to the nails, it protects them.
WHAT IS THE HENNA CEREMONY IN MOROCCO?
In Morocco, marriage is in several traditional customs. Among them, the henna ceremony is a moment in its own right whose aim is religious and symbolic. The bride is sublimated thanks to the meticulous application of henna on her hands and feet. The designs deliver messages of happiness, fertility, and prosperity.
Henna is at the heart of traditions. It occupies an important place in many regions such as North Africa, the Middle East, and also the Indian subcontinent. But what is it of? We will later detail the symbolism that surrounds this ceremony which takes place at the home of the bride’s parents. Finally, we will see all the organization that structures this moment of sharing that Moroccan women greatly appreciate.
MOROCCAN HENNA MADE OF
composition Morocco henna is a shrub of the family Lythraceae. The grinding of its leaves produces a powder that releases a molecule with fortifying and coloring properties. In Morocco, this shrub is mainly in the Azzemour region.
Moroccans use it in particular as a cosmetic product. Women use it to dye their hair, men to maintain their beards. In the case of marriage, henna can produce an ephemeral tattoo on the body. The powder is with orange blossom or rose water to form a paste. A professional woman, Moroccan likes to call it “Nekacha”, applies henna. She creates symbols according to the traditions: A ball in the palm of the hand.
Arabesques on all the faces of the hand and the foot to the wrists
Once applied, the design should dry for about an hour. The henna paste is green in color but when it dries, it ends up taking orange shades.
THE SYMBOLISM OF THE HENNA CEREMONY
The word henna is a derivative of the Hebrew word “hen” which means “to find grace”. The religious ceremony thus takes on its meaning: the bride must find grace in the eyes of God and her husband. As Moroccans often say in Arabic, marriage should bring “baraka” or blessing to the bride and groom. The motifs deliver messages that protect from the evil eye. And that invites happiness, harmony or fecundity, through geometric forms or representations of animals.
A table is prepared with the gifts offered by the future husband for the occasion. Sugar, symbolizing happiness, eggs for the change of life, and a penny for prosperity are found on top.
HOW IS THE HENNA CEREMONY PERFORMED?
According to custom, the Morocco henna ceremony is held one week before the religious wedding. However, other families hold it the night before the wedding. It takes place at the home of the bride’s parents. It is a celebration that brings together female family members (mother, aunts, cousins, nieces) and friends of the bride-to-be.
Two candles are lit at the beginning of the ceremony. It is only when they are consumed that the bride is ready to receive the henna tattoo. The Nekacha sublimates her by applying henna on her hands and feet. Afterward, she invites the other women invited to have it applied.
The hosts entertain their guests with traditional songs and dance. Also, they feed them mint tea and traditional Moroccan cakes (briquettes, gazelle horns, Mehancha …). We have also an article on the culinary specialties of Marrakech. This religious festival is a symbolic moment of sharing between women that continues until dawn!