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Introduction………………………………………1 B a c k ground……………………………………….3

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Apparatus………………………………………...5 How to (Traditional)……………………………..7 How to (Modern)…………………………………9 Transition (Modern)…………………………….11 Transition (Traditional)………………………...16 Conclusion………………………………………22 References……………………………………….23

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There are more to just decorating your hands and feet with pretty designs. There are more to just covering your hands and feet with henna. There are more to just beautifying yourself with the help of henna. There is culture. There are symbolic point of views. There are spiritual recoveries. Each of the symbolic elements stated above varies from place to place. At most, the common reasons behind applying henna have been moreover the same. From a personal aspect, Mehandi for me has been beyond a paraphernalia to make your self feel better. I have ran past that concept the moment my hands had that sensational opportunity to put henna on for others. I used to look up to all my aunties and my elder cousin sisters that used to put it on for others preparing us for the wedding day. They would smoothly outline the designs on the people of my generation with their steady hands. It’s only later when I, myself, started to put it on for others and realized how difficult the task is as I just go with my natural 3 side of me. instincts, the spontaneous

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It has been an artistic journey for me, discovering and recuperating the means of drawing out the youthful lively designs . I have learnt a lot just by experimenting with drawing out on paper to help me differentiate what is actually ‘perfect’ and ‘imperfect’. When drawing out the designs, a lot of things can easily go wrong. The shapes might seem like a misfit or the flow of the apparatus (called cone), may be too hard or too soft depending on how long ago it was made. More than all of that, I had to learn to be confident when putting henna on others, cause’ if they don't like it, they are going to have to stick to it for a few weeks till’ it slowly starts to fade away.

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To define my expertise: I have took classes before on henna designs. I learnt about the different types of designs, the different styles and the different ways of putting the henna. After some time, I left the class and started out experimenting on others on my own. Since then, I have been practicing doodling the designs out on paper every time I am bored or have been putting it on others every time I got the chance. I come from a really big family with a lot of members to know that I have taken enough opportunities out of it whenever weddings happen. Hopefully, through this booklet, one can realize my passion , my drive and my focus for designing the artwork that is4 henna.


When most people think of Mehandi or Mehndi, they think about India. But really, for the past thousand years or so, it has been practiced by Africa and the middle east, not just India. Most of the time, it is practiced for the similar reason– wedding ceremonies. It’s not only a tool that is used partly as a form of celebration for weddings, it is used for other major occasions as well. The henna plant is supposed to represent “love and good fortune, and to protect against evil.” (Carine. F, n.d) This booklet is focusing only on Indian henna designs. In India, henna is applied more for wedding ceremonies. Depending on which specific place in India, the number of days the wedding lasts are different. In some places it lasts for a whole week, in some places like where I come from, it only last for a few hours. But overall, it still has its similarities. When a girl leaves the family to join her husband’s, her own family adores her by giving her clothes, jewelry and one of the considered luxury is decorating her arms and feet with henna. Due to India’s subcultures, in some 5 states, there is a special occasion just for the

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bride’s family. The elder women would put on the henna for the younger ones, and then there would be music playing, singers, dancers etc. The day is called “Mehandi”. From the state I come from it is called “Mylangi” (meaning the same as Mehandi). Sometimes it isn't the elder ones that is helping out, I always put it on for my sister whenever a wedding happens. The whole family would gather and enjoy this pre-day ritual. In the state called Gujarat, after “Mehandi” day, everyone would sing a song to close down the occasion. (Desai. D, 2004).

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Henna powder is of a color called “khaki� or brown. The henna powder is made from the plant called henna. Henna powder is usually a mixture of leaves from different henna plants of different countries. It is mixed and manufactured in huge quantities from industries and popularized by specific factories. When the powder is being made, it is sifted. The powder is then made into a cone (Figure 1). The major outcome is the Mehandi (henna applied to arms/feet/back is called Mehandi) to become as dark as possible after being applied to the skin. To get this result, you must keep your Mehandi on for at least one night.

Figure 1. A picture of the cone.

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Figure 4. The same basic pattern in figure 2, drawn out in a different style. Figure 2. The basic shape in a traditional design. Figure 3. The basic patterns of the traditional design.

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The designs of the traditional art is that the designs are more repetitive. It covers the whole hand, with patterns that are the base and that belongs to the Indian henna design.

1.The firs step is to take out a paper and to jot out your vision. Experiment with yourself. 2.The next thing to do is to trace your hand out on the paper. Start to draw out the basic shapes of Mehandi. 3.To make it traditional, draw repetitive pattern and fill in all of the basic shapes that have been drawn. 4.If there are spaces between the basic shapes, fill in with repetitive rhythms of patterns. So make sure that the whole hand is covered; from the tip of the fingers to the wrist or the arm. 5. Once you are satisfied with your design, try it out on your non-dominant hand or on someone else. 9

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Figure 5. The basic shape in a modern style.

Figure 7. There is a lot of space, and there aren't that many patterns that have filled up some of the shapes.

Figure 6. The shape looks very different, making it a modern design. 10


To realize the difference between traditional and modern, modern are designs that have a larger scaled basic shapes and a more spaced out balance. The modern twist comes in when it is merged in with unusual shaped objects that do not really belong to the traditional 1. Take out a paper and draw out your visions, the things you see in your mind. See what goes and what doesn't. 2. Trace out your hand, and start to draw. 3. Start from any point, and go along with the flow. Go with your spontaneous side. 4. While creating the designs, make the designs vertically longer. 5. Space out the major designs. Branch your designs out from the starting point (Optional). Have negative spaces inside your designs too. 6. Finally, after you are sure of your work, put it out on your non-dominant hand or on someone else. 11

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Figure 8 . Showing the design drawn out on the fingers. The designs on the fingers uses space and have shapes that do not really belong to the traditional side. The shapes don't have a specific shape or a basic shape so it isn't really traditional. Figure 9. Showing the major design drawn out. This figure shows how much space is left out and all the designs are stretched out or long. This is Modern because of how there are a lot of negative spaces on the palm. 13

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This is the day after the Mehandi was applied and left for overnight. It was later that morning, the person who I did this to, removed by scrubbing it away. Notice that the color become darker. This was due to the fact that it was left overnight. If you look at the previous day’s, you will realize there are some really light orange patches in some areas in that picture. If you compare that light orange with this color, you will realize how dark it has become. The change is pretty extravagant.

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After dabbing the lemon onto the skin after removing the Mehandi and putting oil before applying the Mehandi, the design has become really dark. If you compare it with the previous day, this day has become twice as dark. But a warning is that, sometime it depends on the humidity and how much the person sweats. Most of the time, if you follow the right steps, the result is supposed to lead you to this outcome. But luck has something in it too. After one to three weeks, the Mehandi will naturally fade away.

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This picture is taken 2 minutes after applying the Mehandi. So there are some parts that are drying up, and some parts that still seem fresh. This is the most basic design or style for traditional; it is repetitive and covers almost the whole of the hand without leaving much space. One of the flaws in this design is that there are no basic shapes. Everything is a form of a leave flowing out of the main symbol in it’s palm.

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This is the day after the Mehandi was applied. Scrubbing this away took more time as this covers all of the hands more since it is a traditional design. Notice that the color become darker. This was due to the fact that it was left overnight. If you look at the previous day’s, you will realize there are some really light orange patches in some areas in that picture. If you compare that light orange with this color, you will realize how dark it has become. The lines can be better seen if it was darker.

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After dabbing the lemon onto the skin after removing the Mehandi and putting oil before applying the Mehandi, the design has become really dark. As I mentioned earlier, this style looks much better now because it looks better and more clear with darkened lines. The Mehandi is twice as dark now, compared to what was the previous condition. The good thing is that, the part below the wrist is also dark which is not always the case. That part is always light for some reason. Now, just wait till’ it naturally fades away.

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From all of this, the one thing that can be determined is that, there are no rules to drawing henna designs. If you want, create a traditional art and merge it in with the modern side. Go crazy with it. But, it is still important to know the different between a traditional design and a modern design as sometimes when you put Mehandi on someone else, they might have preferences.

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Desai, D. (2004). The Encyclopedia of Henna. Retrieved from http://www.hennapage.com/henna/encylopedia/indwed/desai Fabious, C. (n.d). Body Painting with Henna. Retrieved from http://www.earthhenna.com/Mehndi-Body-Painting-withHenna-c98.html I love India (n.d). Indian Henna—Information on Henna Powder & Henna Pastes. Retrieved from http://beauty.iloveindia.com/henna/index.html

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Henna Designs  

A booklet written about the roots, the methods, and the types of henna designs/

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