Henna Through the Years

06 October 2016

Evolving from a culturally traditional art, Henna has taken a turn and found its way into modern day fashion statements.

The art of Henna is no mystery to the average Malaysian. It has evolved from being reserved for traditional Hindu weddings to being sported at social events and some cultural celebrations, so much so that it’s no longer viewed as traditional but in line with current trends and fashion. We spoke to Razinah of Nana Henna Design, a Henna artist with six years of experience and a social media following of over 40,000.

The way Henna has evolved is largely influenced by its design. Traditionally, Henna - also known as Mehndi - designs are deep lines with intricate details that take influence from various Middle Eastern and Indian cultures. The art is used for Indian brides along with theories that the longevity of the lasting colour defines how much love and affection the new bride will receive. Many Indian cultures make a ceremony out of this known as ‘Mehndi night’ where a professional artist is invited to draw on the girl’s hands and feet followed by a  fun-filled evening of singing and dancing.

Today, Henna is no longer reserved for special cultural events and isn’t tied to meaningful beliefs but is used as a fashion statement instead. “Back in the days, traditional designs included symbolic drawings of peacocks, leaves, floral patterns and mor,” Razinah tells us. She goes on to explain that the change in designs is what makes it applicable to our modern fashion trends. "Over the years, Mehndi artists have come up with new designs inspired by tattoos, bracelets, tribal designs and abstract art." The contemporary, modern designs generally take on a more minimalistic concept with hints of tribal or floral touches.

With instant Henna cones readily available for purchase, the business is now booming and a stall can always be found around parts of the city, especially around Deepavali, Hari Raya and in event spaces. Cynthia, a fan of the art says, “I love stopping by Henna booths in malls and events and getting a quick piece done. It’s fun, beautiful and is the closest thing to getting a tattoo!” Razinah explains that Henna is available in two forms: natural ones that’s made purely from henna leaves, and instant ones that are mixed with a bit of colouring, that allows the colour to develop much faster and stay on for a longer period of time. The latter is more popular.

Now being a fashion trend, you can have Henna at almost any type of event or party and guests will love it. Designs are so versatile; you can pick them out from an artist’s book, allow a freestyle piece or look for one online and have a talented artist give you a non-lasting tattoo.

Look up Nana Henna Design on Facebook or Instagram and check out her amazing work.

By Rowena Jo

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